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lnclo-Pa.k War 1947-48 


(In Two Volumes) 


Col. M. N Gulati (Retd.) 


(Volume One) 


Manas Publications 

New Delhi -110 002 (India) 



MANAS PUBLICATIONS 

(Publishers, Distributors & Exporters) 
481 9/XI,Varun House, Mathur Lane, 

24, Ansari Road, Darya Ganj, 

New Delhi - 1 1 0 002 (INDIA) 

Ph 3260783, 3265523, 3984388 
Fax 01 1 - 3272766 

E-mail manaspublications@vsnl com 


© Col (Retd )M N Gulati 
First Published 2000 


ISBN: 81-7049- 1 23-1 


No part of this publication can be reproduced, photocopied, 
translated, etc in any form whatsoever, without prior written 
permission of the publisher 

The views expressed in this book are those of the author and not 
necessarily of the publisher The publisher is not responsible for 
the views of the author and authenticity of the data, in any way 
what so ever 


Typeset at 

Manas Publications 

Printed m India at 
R K Offset, Delhi 

and Published by Mrs Suman Lata for 
Manas Publications, 481 9/Xl, Varun House, 
Mathur Lane, 24, Ansari Road, Daryaganj 
New Delhi 110002 (INDIA) 



PREFACE 


When I passed through the selection procedures tor 
joining the Army, the War in Jammu & Kashmir was in its 
closing phases. The Battle for Zojila was almost coming to an 
end Naturally this was a hot topic of discussions in the 
Selection Board With the exception of a casual article in an 
odd newspaper, it was virtually impossible to find any reading 
material on the subject And that is where the matter rested 

My first posting was to 69 Field Company of Bengal 
Sappers This unit had played an active role in a number of 
battles in Jammu Region — hewing out tracks over rocky 
outcrops, clearing mines in advance operations, laying 
minefields in defensive positions, building bridges, et a/, 
besides important contribution in developing Pathankot- 
Jammu Road Talking to the jawans was an invigorating 
experience The War Diary of the unit made interesting 
reading But that was about all Still no reading material on 
the subject itself One thing stood out clearly no body called 
It a war, not even in the Army circles It was always "J & K 
operations" It was only after a couple of decades that one or 
two books came in the market They too called it 'Military 
Operations' or 'Kashmir Confrontation', or whatever So it 
was not a war, after all' Or was it? 

Even after almost half a century, the available literature 
on the history of military operations of 1947-48 is limited to 
2-3 books written as personal accounts by Majors-Brigadiers 
who directly participated in various actions Certain element 
of subjectivity is bound to creep into such works Then came 
a large number of regimental history books highlighting acts 
of individual and collective bravery, and achievements of the 
Regiments We also have a couple of books covering specific 




6 


Military Plight of PaKutan 


battles like that of Zojila, or specific sectors like the Kashmir 
Valley, or Ladakh Of late, a number of books have been 
published portraying various aspects of the "Kashmir 
Problem" But, and it is a big 'but', there is hardly any book 
that provides a comprehensive coverage of the entire 
Campaign in its totality 

This new book is a Campaign Study, a compilation, a 
synthesis of various published sources, a complete history of 
the First Indo-Pak War No, it was not a mere 'conflict' or 
'confrontation', it was War, right and proper. Calling those 
military operations by any other name shall be derogatory to 
the memory of thousands of soldiers of Indian Army and the 
State Forces who sacrificed their lives and limbs in a fervour 
of patriotism, despite all round poor compensation, including 
drastic pay cuts while the War was still on. 

The fifteen chapters do not follow a chronological 
sequence; instead, each chapter is more or less a complete 
story. The role of the State Forces of Jammu & Kashmir who 
fought many lonely battles, and whose sacrifices and gallantry 
have not been adequately acknowledged or rewarded, the 
part played by the civil population, the National Conference, 
and the nascent Indian Air Force, enemy's plans and 
deployments, et al, find their due place In a lighter vein, a 
separate chapter also includes some personal anecdotes 

This work is compiled from innumerable sources, spread 
over more than thirty years It is virtually impossible at this 
point of time to contact each one of them individually I have 
therefore made every effort to acknowledge the various 
authors and their publishers, as would be evident from the 
rather exhaustive lists under "Notes & References" at the end 
of every chapter I am deeply indebted to each and every 
one of them, and seek their forgiveness for my inability to get 
in touch with them personally Credits have been liberally 
given If some have been inadvertently left out, my apologies 
to them. In the process, if any error has crept in, the mistake 
is mine only. The comments on the battles, personalities and 
the events are my own, as are the conclusions; I take full 
responsibility for the same. 


Col. (Retd) M.N. Gulati 


COrsJTENITS 


Preface 5 

Volume 1 

1. Gilgit: The Bone of Contention 15 

Gilgit Brought into Sikh Domain 
The Rise of Gulab Singh; 

Military Campaigns of Zorawar Singh; 

Victory into Defeat 
Gilgit Comes into Dogra Domain 

The Treaties of Lahore and Amritsar; 

Gilgit goes partly under the British 
British Residency at Srinagar; 

Gilgit Agency; 

Gilgit under Complete British Control 
Lease Agreement; 

Gilgit in Pakistan's Lap: Kind Courtesy — The British 
Retrocession of Gilgit; 

New Governor for Gilgit; 

Major Brown and Gilgit Scouts; 

Desertions by 6 JAK Battalion; Pakistan Takes 
over Gilgit; 

Notes & References (1-54) 

2. The Fall of Skardu: "All Sikhs Shot, 61 

All Women Raped" 


Raiders Advance to Skardu; 




8 


Military Plight of Pakii>tan 


The Siege of Skardu, 

Last Relief Column to Skardu, 

Enemy's Daring Stroke, 

Abortive Attempt to Recapture KargH, 

The Noose Tightens, 

All Sikhs Shot, All Women Raped, 

Notes & References (1-29) 

3. Political Developments: Pre-Independence 89 

Communications 
Political Developments 

Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, 

Maharaja Sir Han Singh; 

General Situation in the 30's; 

Silk Factory Strike, 

The Crisis of 1931, 

The Abdul Qadir Incident, 

Clancy Commission, The National Conference, 

Quit Kashmir Movement, 

Notes & References (1-14) 

4. Partition and Independence 122 

The Princely States 

Memorandum by the Cabinet Commission, 

Boundary Commission; 

The Maharaja Dithers 
A Peep into junagarh; 

A Glance at Hyderabad, 

Partition & its Aftermath 
Communal Riots, 

Poonch Rebellion; 

Economic Blockade; 

Joint Military Command; 

Division of Armed Forces, 


Contents 


9 


Division of Military Assets 
Indian Army in a Flux, 

Notes & References (1-26) 

5. The Raiders Raid 

State Forces on the eve of Indian Independence 
The Raiders, 

Raiders Start Raiding; 

Desertions & Treachery, 

Pre-Accession Developments 
The Mother of All Raids 

Enemy Intelligence; 

"Operation Gulmarg" Plans 
Pathans Invade in Full Force, 

Muzzaffarbad Ransacked 
Valiant Defence by Brigadier Rajinder Singh 
Mahura Power Fails; 

Rape of Baramula, 

Ethereal Victory Vapourizes, 

Role of the State Forces 
Notes & References (1-44) 

6. Indian Military Intervention 

"Azad Kashmir" State 
The Accession 

The Air Lift 
The First Encounters 
A Brigade is Deployed 
Notes & References (1-42) 

7. The Battle of Shalateng 

Fallout from Pattan, 

Daimlers Join the Battle, 

The Battle is joined; 

Baramula Recaptured, 


155 


205 


243 




70 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Uri Liberated 

Victory India Advantage Pakistan 
Notes & References (1-27) 

Volume-2 

8. Defensive Posture North: Offensive Actions South 

Logistical Build-up 

Construction of Roads & Bridges 
Operations against Terror-Tactics, 

Akhnur-Beripattan Sector 

Jhangar falls into Enemy Hands, 

The Mother of All Battles in Southern Sector 
"Op Kipper" 

Battle of Naushera 
Battle of Kalal; 

"Op Vijay". Recapture of Jhangar 
Battle of Rajauri 

Phase 1 Capture of Barwali Ridge; 

Phase 2 Advance to & Capture of Chmgas, 
Phase 3 Advance to & Capture of Rajauri, 
Operations in Beripattan-Naushera Sector 
Notes & References (1-45) 

9. The Story of Poonch 

Poonch as Sanctuary, 

Partial Link-up from the North, 

Attempted Link-up from the South, 

Air Maintenance of Poonch; 

Gram Harvesting Operations, 

More Piquets around Poonch, 

Temporary Link-up with Poonch 
Break-Through Poonch Siege 
Planning for "Op Easy"; 


291 


333 




Contents 


11 


Deception Measures, 

Capture of Pir Badesar, 

Capture of Pir Kalewa, 

Advance to Bhimber Cali, 

The Final Link-up, 

Mopping Up, 

Notes & References (1-46) 

10, Summer-Offensive Operations in Kashmir 

Battle of Bhatgiran, 

Limber Nullah Battle, 

Towards Domel, After All' 

Outline Plan, Operations in Handwara-Kupwara 
Sector, 

Advance on Mam Axis "Op Behram", 

Summer Offensive An Exercise in Futility 
A Costly Stalemate, 

Capture of Pir Kanthi & Ledi Cali 
Victory India Advantage Pakistan 
"Tariq" Recaptures Pandu, 

Srinagar Threatened from North & East 
Gurais Valley Operations 
Notes & References (1 -44) 

1 1 . Succour to Ladakh 

Defence of Ladakh, 

To Leh via Zojila, 

Local Defensive Measures, 

Defensive Measures in Nubra Valley; 

Defence at Khalatse; 

Air Link to Leh; 

Raid Against Raiders' Gun, 

To Leh via Manali, 

Notes & References (1 -42) 


383 


445 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


72 


12. Battle of Zojila 

Abortive Attempt towards Zojila 
"Operation Duck", 

Second Shot at "Op Duck", 

Break-Through to Zojila-Kargil 

"Operation Bison" Plans, 

Tanks & "Kangaroos" to Baltal, 

Baltal-Zojila Jeep Track, 

Preparations for Breakthrough, 

Deception Plan, 

Breakthrough at Last, 

Capture of Machoi-Matayan, 

Matayan to Drass, 

Drass to Kargil, 

Leh Link-up, 

De-Induction & Winter Stocking, 

Victory India, Advantage Pakistan 
Notes & References (1-59) 

13. The Cease-Fire 

United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan; 
"Operation Venus", 

Cease-fire comes into effect. 

Truce Sub-Committee, 

Karachi Conference, 

Victory India Advantage Pakistan 
Notes & References (1-28) 

14. Some Interesting Anecdotes 

Human Sacrifice of 1st Punjab Regiment Pak Army 
Dogs Take Priority over Royal Harem 
Revelation Beyond Imagination "Op Gulmarg" 


475 


535 


558 


Contents 


13 


Incident in the "Ops Room 

General Cariappa Attempts to Visit Pakistan 

A Signalman's Sixth Sense saves Sinha Good Generals 
are Born Brave 

Dinner Party in Karachi 

Khalil Sends an Emissary 

The Last Enemy Attack on Uri 

Madras Battalion CO leads a Fighting Patrol 

Accident in Anti-Personnel Minefield 

Sen's Sixth Sense 

Thimayya Persuades Meher Singh to Leh 
Conference in Circuit House Rawalpindi 
Some Bright Ideas from "GHQ Azad Kashmir" 

General "Tariq" Lands in Prison 

Nehru's Emissary in Srinagar 27-28 October 1947 

FSMO Parade in Badami Bagh Cantonment 

Army Shares a Map Sheet with the Air Force 

Capturing a POW with own Pants Down 

Audit Objection on War Activity 

Soviet Incursion in 1942 

Visit by a Fake General 

Rani Saheba of Stok 

A Girl of his Choice to Subedar Bhim Chan 
Jeep Scandal 


Notes & References (1-31) 


In Conclusion 

585 

Select Bibliography 

601 

Index 

607 




Maps & Sketches 


1 Jammu & Kashmir State and Adjoining Areas 

2 Jammu & Kashmir State Northern Areas 

3 Routes into Jammu & Kashmir State 

4 The Battle of Shalateng 7'^’ November 1947 

5 Jammu & Kashmir Naushera-Jhangar-Rajauri Sector 

6 Jammu & Kashmir State (Western Area) 

7 Jammu & Kashmir Summer Offensive Operations in Kashmir, 
1948 

8 Jammu & Kashmir State The Cease-Fire Line 

The above maps/sketches are based on material gleaned from 
'Great World Atlas', Indian Geographical Atlas, and other published 
material Sketch at serial 4 above is based on "Slender Was the 
Thread" by Lieutenant General L P Sen, DSO, published by Orient 
Longman, New Delhi 



7 


GILGIT: THE BONE OF 
CONTENTION 


The lofty mountain ranges of Hindu Kush, Pamir and 
Karakoram have, over the centuries, guarded the northern 
borders of the State of Jammu and Kashmir against incursions 
from Central Asia In turn, these areas assumed a unique 
strategic importance in the context of security of the 
erstwhile British Empire The bedrock of British policy for the 
defence of Indian Empire was the simple rule of 
commonsense — fight your wars on someone else's land, the 
neighbour's and not on your own soil Hence the vital 
imp®rtance of creating, and thereafter holding buffer zones 
between the frontiers of the Empire and the borders of 
neighbouring countries 

It IS in this context that Cilgit-Hunza region occupying an 
area of approximately 17,500 square miles comprising Gilgit 
Wazarat, Astor Tehsil and Frontier areas which included 
Punial, Ishkoman, Yasin, Kuh, Ghizar, Hunza, Nagar and 
Chilas, assumed strategic significance in the eyes of the 
British administrators This had to be so, since this barren 
land of high mountains peaks abutted on British Indian 
Empire, Tsarist Russian Empire in Asia, The Chinese Empire 
through Its province of Smkiang besides of course Tibet and 
Afghanistan Gilgit has about 50 miles of common border 
with Afghanistan where Wakhan, a sliver of Afghan territory 
separated the State of Jammu and Kashmir from Russia The 
route from Russia came through the Pamirs over the 
Hmdukush through the Dorah and Baroghil passes via 




JAMMU 8< KASHMIR STATE 








Gilgit The Bone of Contention 


77 


Wakhan down to Chitral and Gilgit This further emphasizes 
the strategic importance of this region in the context of 
Central Asia ^ 

The renowned peak of Pavalo Slovikovaski is the meeting 
place of erstwhile Soviet Russia, China, India, Pakistan and 
Afghanistan "Within a radius of 56 miles from Gilgit, the 
survey maps show, amidst innumerable smaller peaks, eleven 
varying from 18,000 ft to 20,000 ft, seven from 20,000 to 
22,000 ft, SIX from 22,000 to 24,000 ft and eight from 24,000 
to 26,000 ft",^ and of these the 26,620 ft Nanga Parbat and 
24,270 ft Haramosh are specially noteworthy The old maps 
also show a number of foot suspension bridges m and around 
Gilgit district 

It IS no wonder therefore that British intelligence agents 
had been active in this region from the early nineteenth 
century For instance, Moorcraft and Trebeck visited Ladakh 
in 1820 ostensibly to study wool trade to Tibet, William 
Lockhar visited Hunza as far back as 1886 And so did many 
others In fact, the various OSDs (Officers on Special Duty) 
appointed from time to time were in fact intelligence agents 
acting as the eyes and ears of the Empire Although, the 
political situation in this region has undergone cataclysmic 
changes since those times, the geo-strategic position remains 
unaltered Even today the security of the Northern Frontiers 
continues to be pivotal to the security of Jammu and Kashmir 

and thereby of India 

*- 

The most important caravan route across this mighty 
mountain range from Yarkand to Leh covering a distance of 
482 miles went via Khardung La, Sasser La and passed over 
the 18,500-ft high Karakoram Pass On the Ladakh side this 
route passed through the Depsang plains onto the Nubra 
Valley to Panamik and thence to Leh On the northern side of 
the range, the Chinese had their posts at the foothills of the 
Kuen Lun mountains, at Sanju, Kilian, and Kugujar which was 
later advanced to Suget Karoul on the northern descent from 
the Karakoram Pass The Kashmir Darbar used to have their 
customs post at Shahidulla on the northern side of the Pass.^ 




18 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


The Great River Indus, which has its source in the 
Mansrovar Lake — the highest and holiest major lake in the 
world — flows east to west in Gilgit region and separates 
Karakoram Range frim the Himalayan Range Mustagh 
Mountains in the nrrtheast separate Hunza and Nagar from 
Chinese Sinkiang. i .le Indus in its middle reaches drains 
through much of this Northern Frontier region including 
Bunji, Skardu, Kargil and Ladakh besides, of course, the 
Gilgit-Hunza region While at Leh the River flows at 1 1,000 ft 
and the Indus gorge at Kargil is at 8,000 ft, but at Bunji :t 
flows only at an altitude of 4,000-ft above MSL To the left of 
the Indus lies the extensive Astor valley, land of dry barren 
brown hills where it hardly rams or snows, but the climate is 
generally salubrious 

The Indus Valley tableland with Karakoram mountain 
ranges in the North and the Outer Himalayas m the South is 
called Baltistan and has an average elevation of 10,000 ft 
above MSL. The Gilgit-Hunza region known as Dardistan lies 
to the west It controls the vital passes leading to 
Pakhtoonistan region of Pakistan, the North West Frontier 
Province on the West, Central Asia on the North-West, and 
Baltistan, that is Skardu and Kargil towards the South. Ladakh, 
valley of Shyok and the area of Shigar lie to the east. Skardu 
on river Indus at 7,700 ft AMSL is the capital town of 
Baltistan while Kharmang, Khaplu, Shigar, Skardu and Rondu 
are its sub-divisions 

It will thus be seen that political developments on both 
sides of the Karakoram directly affect the situation in the 
Kashmir Valley, thereby adding to the strategic importance of 
the present Ladakh region to the security of the Indian 
Republic. Which ever power controls the northern passes 
over the Karakoram has direct military access to Ladakh and 
thereby through the Kashmir Valley to not only the northern 
Indian plains but also to the plains of Punjab in Pakistan This 
was all the more so since Cilgit also commanded one of the 
two main caravan routes from Srinagar via Gurais, Burzil Pass 
and Mintaka pass to Kashgarh. In this connection it should be 



Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


79 


noted that although politically Curais was not a part of the 
Northern lllaqas, geographically speaking, Leh, Kargil, Drass, 
Skardu, Gurais and Gilgit all fell in the same basket of high 
mountainous rugged northern segment of the State of Jammu 
and Kashmir 

Gilgit situated on the Right Bank of River of the same 
name is at a comfortable altitude of 4,800-ft AMSL Bunji to 
Its south is at 4,630 ft, while the rest of the northern areas in 
general suffer from arctic cold conditions Prior to 1947, the 
political district, i e , the Agency and the Wazarat covered an 
area of 14,680 square miles It was a military station, 
headquarters of the Agency and the Wazarat, having the 
usual facilities of a post and telegraph office, police station, 
rest house, hospital, workshop, all the usual paraphernalia of 
a small military cantonment acting as an out-post of the 
Empire in an otherwise desolate land Thus Gilgit was an 
oasis in the arctic wasteland It was well connected by surface 
routes, as per the standards of those days in such inhospitable 
lands A ten feet wide track connected the Agency with 
Havelian m Hazara district of Pakistan over the Babusar Pass 
A track over the Burzil Pass (13,755-ft) went all the way to 
Bandipur to the south over a distance of 195 miles and 
thereafter another 33 miles to Srinagar Gilgit was 
connected with Ladakh by a mule track which went over high 
mountain passes 12,000 to 14,000 ft AMSL for a distance of 
300 miles to Leh Beyond Gilgit, this track went to Wakhan 
province of Afghanistan, and also to Sinkiang over the Pamirs. 

Gilgit Tehsil used to cover an area of 1,750 square miles 
Astor covering an area of 1,450 square miles used to be a 
subdivision of Gilgit. The small town of Astor situated at 
7,853 ft too enjoyed similar civil and military facilities as 
Gilgit, albeit at a much reduced scale It was also the seat of 
the Wazr-i-Wazarat The population of the Northern Areas is 
totally Muslim in as much as Gilgit Agency had 270,000 
Muslims and a mere 1,250 Hindus The Muslim population of 
Dardistan is divided into three sects. Shias, Sunnis and the 
Maulais. While the people of Nagar are Shias, those of Hunza 




20 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


are Maulais and are followers of Agha Khan They correspond 
to the Noor Bakshis of Baltistan 

The people of this region are said to be " descendents 
of Greeks, the Scythians, the Bactrians, Parthians and the 
Kushans ^ Collectively, they are known as Dards and their 
country as Dardistan. During ancient times when Buddhism 
came to this area in the 6“’ century A D, Sahi princes ruled 
Gilgit and the adjoining areas They left their mark in the 
shape of many stupas remnants of some of which may still be 
there 


GILGIT BROUGHT INTO SIKH DOMAIN 

Oppression, extortions, cruelties and forcible conversions 
of Hindu Brahmins and Shia Muslim communities under the 
severe 49 years long rule of Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb of 
Delhi, particularly under Governor Iftikar Khan (1671-75) 
broke the back of the local population of the Kashmir Valley 
The Brahmins requested the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Teg 
Bahadur to come to their aid In the process. Guru Teg 
Bahadur suffered untold atrocities at the hands of the 
Moghuls In the wake of the chaotic conditions that prevailed 
in the Kashmir Valley after the death of Aurangzeb, two 
influential local leaders invited Ahmed Shah Abdali to invade 
Kashmir. Thus Afghan rule was re-established in the Valley m 
1 753 ushering in a yet more ruthless and cruel regime. ® 

The Afghans proved to be much worse masters than the 
earlier Moghuls. As in the past in their earlier avtar, they 
were still the same old barbarous hordes that indulged in 
cruelties, abductions and rape, bringing in their wake still 
worse forms of mismanagement, hunger and privations on 
the local populace. And once again, as was their wont, the 
Kashmiris sought outside intervention — this time of the 
Sikhs The initiative was taken by Birbal Dhar, a Pandit 
nobleman during the rule of last Afghan Governor of the 
Valley, Jabbar Khan. 



Gilgit The Bone of Contention 


21 


Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh lord at Lahore had earlier 
made two futile attempts to capture the Valley Beautiful, the 
first in 1812 and the second two years later He could take 
these liberties by virtue of the terms of 1809 Treaty of 
Friendship between the British and the Maharaja under 
which the British had agreed not to interfere with the 
Maharaja's territories north of River Sutlej But this time in 
April 1819, an army of over 30,000 troops under Prince 
Kharak Singh and Diwan Misr Chand was better equipped 
and led. The force split into two columns at Rajauri for a 
pincer movement into the Valley Kharak Singh marched up 
the Jhelum valley to Baramula while Misr Chand led his 
column across the Pir Panj'al range over the Haji Pir Pass The 
two columns converged at Shopiyan The Afghan army of 
about 12,000 men could not withstand the onslaught of the 
Sikh forces whose superior artillery, along with the invaluable 
assistance and information provided by Pandit Birbal Dhar, 
proved to be the deciding factors in Jabbar Khan's defeat at 
Shopiyan on 1 5 July 1819 The Sikhs marched into the capital 
the next day thus bringing to end 67 years of Afghan 
predatory rule Three days of illuminations and celebrations 
at Amritsar and Lahore marked this historic event. 

The Sikh victory over Afghans was an epoch making 
event It ended five centuries long Muslim rule in the Valley 
And the Valley Beautiful once again passed into the hands of 
Hindus. Raja Kak Dhar and other nobles now ruled Kashmir, 
on behalf of the Sikhs of course "The Sikhs were not so 
barbarous or cruel as the Afghans, but were hard and rough 
masters"^ Be that as it may, Sikh rule was not much of an 
improvement over their predecessors' in so far as welfare of 
the masses was concerned. Their rule lasted for 27 years only, 
1819 to 1846, during which short period the Valley was ruled 
by ten governors appointed from Lahore. However, that does 
not detract from the significance of the above event, not only 
in Itself but also in the subsequent campaigns and 
developments which were to have far reaching consequences 
both for the Kashmiris themselves as well as for the British 
Empire 



22 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


The first and foremost of these developments was the rise 
of the Dogras in Jammu. Later, it was to spread not only over 
the entire Valley but also pave the way for the first ever 
attempt from the Indian side to invade Tibet, during which 
process the strategic Northern Regions first came under the 
Dogras, and later under the British control 

The Rise of Gulab Singh 

Culab Singh was born in 1792, son of Mian Kishore 
Singh,® m a jagir near Samba, about 24 miles south of 
Jammu As a young man in his teens, he was good at horse 
riding and handled the sword effectively He was also a sharp 
shooter, besides being brave and dashing He distinguished 
himself in the Battle of Gumat for the defence of Jammu 
when the Sikh forces attacked it. His daring feats of valour 
came to the personal notice of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who 
took him and his two brothers, Dhyan Singh and Suchet 
Singh, in the service of his Kingdom 

Gulab Singh proved his worth in the service of the Sikh 
Kingdom and its Maharaja. By dint of unmatched skill, 
personal valour, and organizing ability in the various 
campaigns undertaken by Ranjit Singh, he continued to add 
glory to himself, not only in the field of battle but also in 
administering the territories brought into the Sikh domain. 
The Maharaja was greatly impressed by his loyalty to the Sikh 
qause and the Kingdom, particularly during the sieges of 
Multan and Jalandhar The subjugation of the tribes of 
Yusafzai in 1819 resulting in the capture of Peshawar by 
Ranjit ~§Tn gh wa s~a~ s igm f i ca i il ach'e'ompnt of which Gulab 
Singh could be justly proud In the process, Gulab Singh 
became one of the trusted senior generals of the Sikh Army. 

In recognition of these services, Ranjit Singh granted a 
number of estates to Culab Singh and also made him the 
hereditary Raja of Jammu. ^ 


Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


23 


Military Campaigns of Zorawar Singh 

The trust and esteem m which Ranjit Singh held Gulab 
Singh IS evident from the fact that the Sikh Maharaja himself 
presided over his installation ceremony held at Akhnur in 
1823 and personally applied the saffron Rajtilak on Gulab 
Singh's forehead This also conferred on the new Raja the 
right to raise his own military forces, which he did with great 
speed and proficiency Soon Gulab Singh brought Reasi, 
Kishtwar, Rajauri, Chenani etc under his control and 
appointed Zorawar Singh^° as the Governor of Kishtwar 

Zorawar Singh was a brilliant general of his times In 
1834, with the implied consent of Ranjit Singh and The East 
India Company, Gulab Singh entrusted Wazir Zorawar Singh 
the task of establishing his control over Ladakh, the "Roof of 
the World" and the "Little Tibet of India" — a cold snowy 
desert lying to the east of the Valley at an altitude of 10,000- 
16,000 ft The diplomatic pretext for this expedition was that, 
earlier on, Ladakh was under Kishtwar, and since Zorawar 
Singh was now the Governor of Kishtwar, he was morally 
justi.fied in this venture ” 

The constraints, mostly natural against such a hazardous 
operation were many and varied — formidable physical 
obstacles of high mountain ranges, criss-crossed by numerous 
rivers and streams, sub-zero temperatures even in summer, 
terrain devoid of any vegetation or human habitations at 
altitude above 10,000 ft, frozen water sources; and mountain 
passes blocked by snow and avalanches in winter — truly, a 
battle against the elements. It was in the face of such 
formidable odds that the Dogra composite force of infantry, 
cavalry and artillery numbering about 10,000 under 
command of Zorawar Singh crossed the Zanskar Range and 
entered Ladakh through Rung Pass at the head of Suru Valley 

The first formal military engagement between Boti leader 
Mangal commanding a force of 5,000 and Zorawar Singh 
took place on 16 August 1834 at Sanku. The Ladakhi force 
withdrew when they found that the Dogras had blocked their 



24 


Military Plight of Pal<ii,tan 


line of retreat from the rear After this short and sharp but 
highly successful engagement, Zorawar Singh built a small fort 
and rested his troops at Suru for about a month 

In September 1834, Zorawar Singh resumed his advance 
to Shakher and continued through Langkarchu and Manji to 
the bridge at Pushkyum. The Ladakhis again suffered a defeat 
but managed to destroy the bridge Zorawar Singh was one 
up on the Ladakhis and managed to make his force cross the 
river using inflated animal skins locally called 'zak', and thus 
continued the pursuit of the retreating Ladakhis However, 
the engagements so far were mere skirmishes The major 
battle of this campaign was fought at Sod where 6000 
Ladakhis were taken prisoner The Raja of Ladakh, Tsepal 
Namgyal Gyalpo capitulated and sued for peace 

Zorawar Singh then proceeded with his force to Leh for 
rest and refit After some negotiations, the Raja of Ladakh 
agreed to pay an annual tribute of Rs 20,000/- to the Dogra 
Raj at Jammu Zorawar Singh then fell back to Lamayurru and 
then proceeded to Suru and Sod Even after this settlement, 
there were a number of small revolts/rebellions against Dogra 
domination, which were promptly and severely put down by 
Zorawar Singh. By about 1840, Ladakh was part of the Sikh 
Empire of Lahore which, with the death of Ranjit Singh about 
a year earlier, was gradually weakening 

Zorawar Singh's next objective was subjugation of 
Baltistan, comprising of the three states of Skardu, Hunza and 
Gilgit He assembled a force of 15,000 for the invasion of 
Skardu since this was the first and strongest of the three The 
Ladakhis augmented the Dogra force. They provided the hill 
ponies without which such an operation m such a terrain 
could not possibly be launched. By virtue of their location, 
Ladakhi troops automatically provided a well-protected firm 
base for the invading army, besides guarding its lines of 
communications. The invading force moved along the Right 
Bank of River Indus. During its 25 days march, it consolidated 
Kargil and Drass while the neighbouring Suru had already 


Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


25 


been taken control of during the earlier phase of this 
campaign The Dogras laid siege to Skardu Fort Its water 
supply was cut off Zorawar Singh's skillful use of cavalry 
combined with infantry tactics resulted m capitulation of 
Skardu garrison after about two weeks of fighting Ahmed 
Shah, the Raja of Skardu sued for peace He was deposed 
and his son, Mohammed Shah was made the new ruler who 
agreed to pay an annual tribute of Rs 7,000/- to the Dogra 
Raj 

The quick fall of Skardu unnerved the other Rajas of the 
area Gilgit and Hunza accepted the suzerainty of Dogra Raj 
without a fight 

The logical end result of many Trans-Himalayan military 
expeditions undertaken by the redoubtable Zorawar Singh 
was the politico-administrative settlements which added the 
far flung Northern Areas of Chilas^'*, Gilgit, Hunza, Ladakh 
and Baltistan to the "Dogra Empire". However, Zorawar 
Singh did not rest on his laurels even after all these hazardous 
ventures Once again, this indefatigable General left Leh in 
May 1841 at the head of a composite force of Dogras, 
Ladakhis and Baltis The Dogra troops were under command 
of Basti Ram while the rest were under Ghulam Khan His 
cavalry consisted of hill-ponies and horses provided by the 
Balti and Ladakhi rulers, without which the proposed 
hazardous expedition would not have been possible at all 

This force entered Tibet at Tashigong and overran the 
Tibetan frontier post of Rudok located at 13,300 ft Gar and 
Taklala Kote were next in quick succession In this connection 
It IS of interest to note that Gar, the headquarters of Eastern 
Tibet was then under Chinese domination. In the face of such 
spectacular advances by Zorawar Singh, the Tibetans 
executed a clever and orderly strategic withdrawal They 
knew their country well, and were aware of adverse effects of 
the elements. As defenders, they could harness high altitude 
terrain and weather to their great military advantage. When 
the winter was at its height in December 1841, the Tibetan 




26 


Military Plight of Pakibtan 


forces under General Shatra attacked Zorawar Singh and 
simultaneously cut off their line of retreat. Caught in a 
snowstorm, he fought bravely at a height of 15,000 ft where 
he met his Waterloo Zorawar was killed in battle, and so was 
most of his force The Dogra army suffered very heavy 
casualties both in battle and due to frostbite Some reports 
say that barely 25 Dogras managed to escape the carnage and 
made their way back to Kashmir, where they narrated their 
sad tale of extreme valour under the most trying conditions 
Thus, for the Dogras, Lhasa remained much too far away as it 
had always been, across the 15,000-ft Mariom La' 

But that was not the end of the debacle for the valiant 
Dogras After decimating the Dogra composite force, the 
Tibetans promptly freed Ladakh from Dogra rule. Thus the 
Jammu Raj was more or less back to square one. This 
situation was not acceptable to Gulab Singh, who was no 
mean soldier-general in his own right having successfully 
fought a number of campaigns. So the next year, he sent 
another force to Leh under Diwan Han Chand The Dogras 
once again reoccupied Leh-Ladakh Han Chand sent the Raja 
of Ladakh as prisoner to Jammu Negotiations were held 
between the three parties — Dogras, Ladakhis and Tibetans 
— and a tripartite agreement was signed under which it was 
settled that the old traditional frontiers were to be recognized 
as the international boundary between Tibet and Ladakh. The 
most significant effect of this agreement was that the Tibetans 
explicitly ceded Ladakh to the Dogra Raj If today Ladakh is 
part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the credit for that 
goes entirely to Zorawar Singh, and his valiant Dogra soldiers 
Their sacrifices did not go in vain; otherwise today Chinese 
claims of suzerainty over Tibet could well have been 
extended to Ladakh also 

It IS noteworthy that while Ladakh was de facto under 
the Dogra rule, it was the Sikh Darbar at Lahore who were 
the de jure masters of the newly conquered territories. All 
this time, Gulab Singh was conducting these operations well 
beyond his immediate domain of Jammu in the name of, for 



Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


27 


and on behalf of the Sikh Government at Lahore In other 
words, strictly speaking, since 1841 Ladakh, Skardu, Gilgit 
and Hunza regions were all under the Sikh rule Further, 
1840-41 was the first and last time in the history of India that 
Indian forces had ventured out directly to attack Tibet and 
penetrated right into Tibet proper, of course at a prohibitively 
high cost in human lives, hardships and suffering 

In order to remove this incongruity in the control of these 
territories, two years after the death of Ranjit Singh, the 
Lahore Government deputed Gulab Singh to restore order in 
Kashmir Valley He accomplished the task easily As directed 
by the Lahore Government, he appointed Sheikh Mohid-ud- 
Din as the new Governor of the region and returned to 
Lahore It is an irony of fate that the same Governor Mohid- 
ud-Din, the last Sikh-Governor of the Valley was in turn to 
surrender the Valley back to Gulab Singh in 1846' 

Thus, "With the installation of Mohid-ud-Din as Governor 
at Srinagar, Raja Gulab Singh acquired enormous influence in 
the Valley From then onwards he was bidding his time to 
formally annex it to his growing kingdom Gulab Singh 
again deputed Dewan Han Chand with a large force in 1851 
for conquest of Chilas Such forays by the Dogra Raja into the 
far North continued to add to the Dogra domain 

Victory into Defeat 

Zorawar Singh's last foray into Tibet has received liberal 
eulogy from no less a historian than K M Panikar In his 
words, " Thus died Zorawar Singh, a soldier of whose 
achievements India could justly be proud of. To have 
marched an army not once, or twice, but six times over the 
snow clad ranges of Ladakh and Baltistan, 15,000 ft above 
the sea-level, where the air is so rarefied that people from 
the plains can hardly live with comfort, is a wonderful 
achievement To have conquered that country after 
successive campaigns and reduced it to a peaceful province is 
an exploit for which there is no parallel in Indian history. His 
greatness will shine through the pages of Indian history as that 




26 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


of a great and noble warrior"’® To cap it all, a military 
historian of the calibre and reputation of Major General D K 
Palit, VrC, has said, "Zorawar Singh, more than any body 
else, laid a firm foundation for the growth and development 
of Gulab Singh's army and the training and traditions started 
by him have remained a proud heritage for the J & K Rifles to 
the present day 

Be that as it may, from a critical military appraisal of the 
penultimate campaign of Zorawar Singh , it is difficult to 
escape the conclusion that it ended in a complete fiasco, a 
total failure resulting in complete annihilation of the 
combined Dogra force of Ladakhis and Baltis along with their 
precious hill cavalry Zorawar Singh outstripped his own 
generalship when he walked into the trap set by the Tibetan 
General Shatra, who conducted a brilliant strategic 
withdrawal which, under the best of circumstances, is one of 
the most difficult operations of war He then attacked 
Zorawar Singh's forces at the time and place of his own 
choosing — an acid test of generalship — and inflicted such a 
crushing defeat that no one thereafter from this side of the 
Karakoram has ever dared to invade that country again. 
Zorawar Singh not only outstretched his own generalship but 
also Ignored some, if not most of the fundamental principles 
of war thereby inviting not only his own defeat through 
reckless, almost foolhardy adventurism but also complete 
decimation of his army. 

This IS a classic case of Victory into Defeat. Zorawar 
Singh had reached the zenith of his military career when he 
undertook the last battle of the campaign. In one single 
stroke of adventurism, he lost all that he had gained during 
his SIX hazardous marches over these unforgiving formidable 
mountain ranges. In all fairness, it must be unequivocally 
conceded that, in this pan-ultimate Battle, it was the lustrous 
generalship of the Tibetan Chief that stood out resplendent 

Wisdom of hindsight? Nonetheless, this critical passage 
does not in any way belittle, or devalue, Zorawar Singh's 


Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


29 


Otherwise brilliant generalship unblemished till his last battle. 
It IS only because of him that today India is the strategic 
beneficiary of possession of Ladakh, controlling the routes of 
ingress of any future Chinese, Russian, Central Asian or 
Afghani incursions into the heartland of India 

GILGIT COMES INTO DOGRA DOMAIN 

Maharaja Ranjit Singh died in 1839 That single event by 
Itself was the beginning of the end of the Sikh Empire Wild 
anarchy and chaos prevailed all over Various nobles and 
heirs of Ranjit Singh were vying with each other to grab as 
much power and territory wherever they could 

Taking advantage of the unsettled and fluid state of affairs 
in the Sikh kingdom, the British forces decisively defeated the 
Sikhs in the crucial Battle of Sobran fought in 1846 At that 
time, Dogra Raja Gulab Singh was the Prime Minister of the 
Sikh Government at Lahore and he was instrumental in the 
defeat of his own government He betrayed his charge by 
disposing his forces in such a way as to help the British Since 
It was a closely fought engagement, his betrayal might as well 
have tilted the scales "''® 

The Treaties of Lahore and Amritsar 

The first Sikh War resulted in a decisive victory for the 
British Raja Gulab Singh negotiated the treaties between the 
British and the Sikhs Two separate treaties were concluded. 
First The Treaty of Lahore on 9 March 1846 under which the 
Sikhs were required to relinquish Jullundur Doab, both banks 
of River Sutlej, pay indemnity of rupees 1 I /2 crores, and 
reduce their army strength to 20,000 infantry and 12,000 
cavalry. Since the Sikhs were unable to pay the indemnity of 
Rs 1 50 crores, they ceded certain additional territories to the 
British — hill territories between rivers Beas and Indus that 
also included Kashmir and Hazara. Since the British were not 
in a position to bear this additional territorial load, they 
retained only the eastern most portion comprising Kangra, 




30 


Military Plight of Pakii,tan 


Kulu, Nurpur and Mandi, and for the rest, a second treaty 
was concluded 

Under the Treaty of Amritsar concluded on 1 6 March 
1846, the British transferred forever in independent 
possession, "some of the ceded areas including Kashmir to 
Gulab Singh" Gulab Singh agreed to pay Rs 75 lakhs to the 
British as part of the aforesaid indemnity on behalf of the 
Sikh Darbar. Under the terms of this Treaty, the British 
recognized Raja Gulab Singh and his descendents as the 
rulers of Jammu and Kashmir and the adjoining territories 
Raja Gulab Singh was further honoured with the title of 
Maharaja "Thus, Kashmir was passed on to the Dogras in 
consequence of the terms of the treaties, and not m 
consequence of a 'sale deed' Furthermore, Article 1 0 of 
the Treaty of Amritsar acknowledges the supremacy of the 
British Government in as much as the Maharaja was required 
to present annually to the British Government one horse, 12 
perfect shawl-goats of approved breed (6 male and 6 female) 
and three pairs of Cashmere shawls 

The question naturally arises why did the British show 
this generosity towards the Dogra ruler? It certainly was not a 
gesture of charity, or in the nature of a pure and simple 
commercial transaction. The British were not known for such 
magnanimous altruism. In fact, their real intention was to 
weaken the Sikh nation. In the words of Lord Harding, " . a 
Rajput dynasty will act as a counterpiece against the power of 
a Sikh prince, the son of the late Ranjit Singh, and both will 
have a common interest in resisting attempts on the part of 
any Mohammedan power to establish an independent state 
on this side of the Indus, or even to occupy Peshawar."-^? 
"This establishes beyond doubt that the British took away 
Kashmir from the Lahore Darbar and gave it away to 
Maharaja Gulab Singh not for the sake of money, but for a 
major political reason i.e., to weaken the Sikh power. 
Furthermore, The East India Company had suffered heavy 
casualties and financial losses in the Anglo-Sikh wars; 
therefore they wanted to buy the goodwill of the Dogras so 


Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


31 


that their force would not intervene on behalf of the Sikhs In 
any case, even if the British wanted to keep Kashmir in their 
possession, they could not possibly retain it for the simple 
reason that there was no geographical contiguity between 
Kashmir and the rest of the British territories, since Punjab 
was not under the British control at that time Moreover, 
Calcutta was much too far away to exercise control over 
Kashmir and beyond The British were therefore not 
interested to directly own Kashmir at that point of time Thus, 
playing with the rights of ownership of these strategic 
territories was all part of political intrigues to gam time 

From the foregoing account of duplicity and intrigues, it is 
evident that while professing loyalty to the Sikh rulers, Gulab 
Singh was secretly in touch with the British whereby he 
secured a vast princely state free of the vagaries of Lahore 
Darbar Along with Kashmir, Ladakh-Baltistan-Gilgit also came 
under the Dogra rule based at Jammu Gulab Singh had been 
well rewarded for the services rendered by him. In the 
process, he became the master of what in course of time 
came to be the State of Jammu and Kashmir, notwithstanding 
his becoming a nominal vassal of the British by agreeing to 
pay a token tribute In any case, Gulab Singh was at the 
mercy of the British since Kashmir was not in physical 
possession of the British when they ceded it to him in March 
1846 It was merely a paper transaction in so far as the British 
were concerned To cap it all, the Governor at Srinagar 
resisted Gulab Singh's attempts to take over Kashmir 
notwithstanding the Treaties of J.ahore and Amritsar, and he 
did so at the behest of the Sikhs who had themselves already 
ceded these territories to the British' It was not until 9 Nov 
1846 that Gulab Singh, the new ruler could enter his capital 
Srinagar, and that too only with direct military help of the 
British That was the height of intrigue and duplicity, and 
downright dishonest diplomacy 

After the death of Gulab Singh, Ranbir Singh ascended 
the Gaddi in 1857 — a rather critical time for the British 
Empire Indeed, the British were in dire straits The new 



32 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Maharaja therefore rendered considerable military assistance 
to the British by way of 2,000 state troops, 200 cavalry and 
SIX guns to help them to retake Delhi The then Viceroy, Lord 
Canning appreciated this gesture and reciprocated by 
incorporating an amendment to the Treaty of Amritsar 
Ranbir Singh was now authorised to adopt a male heir not 
born to him, and his princely "pecking order" was raised by 
adding two guns to the salute of 19 fired in his honour on 
ceremonial occasions. His full title was also made far more 
imposing and grand in that it became "Maharaja Sir Ranbir 
Singh, Inder Mahinder, Sipar-i-Saltnat, General, Asakir-i- 
Inglishia, Mushir-i-Khas-i-Qaisara-i-Hind, Grand Commander 
of the Star of India, Grand Commander of the Indian 
Empire"-'^ Nonetheless, political pressure on the Dogra ruler 
continued unabated, but not without reason "Gilgit had 
always been a tender spot for the British and any questioning 
of their right to hold it produced a violent reaction from their 
side 


GILGIT GOES PARTLY UNDER THE BRITISH 

Over the past many centuries, Kashmir had suffered 
oppression and cruelties, abductions and rape, as well as 
backbreaking heavy burden of taxation imposed by various 
foreign (mis)ruiers, "the outsiders". And Dogra rule proved no 
exception. It turned out to be as bad as the earlier Sikh rule 
except that discrimination on religious grounds replaced 
abductions and rape. A ghastly famine in 1878-79 during the 
reign of Maharaja Ranbir Singh, like many others in the past 
centuries,^® wrought havoc on the hapless population Mal- 
administration continued to be rampant in the State as 
hithertofore. Repeated famines and epidemics fueled 
political unrest with the result that complaints and 
memoranda against the Maharaja continued to pour in the 
office of the Viceroy at Delhi. This in turn imparted rationale 
to the British policy, focal point of which had always been 
Gilgit and the adjoining strategic frontier areas. 


Gilgit The Bone of Contention 


33 


The system of forced labour known, as 'begaar' whereby 
villagers were called upon to do duty as porters without any 
compensation was prevalent as a matter of routine. This was 
the extension of Corvee System borrowed from the Tibetans 
under which all available able-bodied villagers not on combat 
service were required to do portage duty between villages 
carrying food, fodder and armaments for an army on the 
march Wages were low Food was scarce The people were 
in a bad shape under a miserable rule The situation was thus 
ripe for further British intrusions 

British Residency at Srinagar 

Well before the Dogra rule came to the Valley and 
thereby to the Northern Areas, the British had their eyes on 
the strategic region of Ladakh, Baltistan and Gilgit In order to 
keep themselves well abreast of the developments in that 
strategically sensitive area, the British had posted an Officer 
on Special Duty at Srinagar in 1852, ostensibly to look after 
the interests of European tourists to the Valley, but m reality 
to look after the geo-strategic interests of the ever expanding 
British Empire In furtherance of this objective, British Trade 
Agency was established at Leh in 1867 thus usurping control 
of the vital trade routes to Central Asia As usual, trade was 
the stepping stone to empire building 

Maharaja Ranbir Singh was not sitting idle either He 
established the Russian Language School at Srinagar, the first 
of Its kind in India so that trained spies could be sent to 
Central Asian countries In 1860, he also sent a force under 
Devi Singh for capturing the Fort of Gilgit After this success, 
Devi Singh proceeded to Vasin and carved out the buffer 
state of Punial between Gilgit and Yasin and appointed Isa 
Bahadur as the ruler of Punial "Although the Mehtar of 
Chitral had greatly improved his capacity for making mischief 
on the Gilgit frontier — after he had succeeded m adding 
Mastuj and Yasin to his territory in 1870 — he could not do 
much against the Dogras by himself He, therefore, sought 
the intervention of the British for restoration of Gilgit and 




34 


Military Plight of Pakr^tan 


Punial to Chitral The British, however, refused to oblige, as 
their interest lay in hese territories remaining under the 
Maharaja of Kashmir which, with their grip over the State 
tightening each day, was as good as these territories being 
under their own control The Mehtar was then left with no 
alternative but to accept the fact of Dogra rule in Gilgit This 
desire on the part of the Iman-ul-Mulk for friendship with the 
Dogras was also prompted by the threat he was facing from 
the Amir of Kabul who had begun to assert his claim to 
suzerainty over Chitral, it being a dependency of 
Badkashan 

Since the British Government wanted to secure the 
allegiance of Chitral, Dir and Bajour so as to isolate them 
from having any friendly relations with Afghanistan, the 
British encouraged the Maharaja m his ventures in these far 
flung frontier areas These manoeuvers resulted in the 
conclusion of Chitial Agreement of 1878 Chitral thus 
became a tributary state of the Dogra Raj Meanwhile, 
Captain Biddulph who had been appointed OSD Cilgit was 
keeping an eye on the British interests in the region 

Maharaja Ranbir Singh's expansionist policy towards the 
northern frontier areas produced a rather paradoxical 
reaction from the British On the one hand they were pleased 
that such strategic areas were coming under their indirect 
influence, on the other they were perturbed by the Dogra 
ruler's increasing control on the region They were 
particularly incensed over a series of spectacular Dogra 
successes achieved in 1859, when General Hushiara crushed 
the revolt in Gilgit, and had vanquished the Mehtar of Chitral 
by detaching Kuh, Chizer and Ishkoman. The British were all 
the more peeved since these territorial expansions were 
achieved without their military assistance The British 
considered Gilgit region as an outpost of their Indian Empire, 
vital for the defence of the subcontinent against Russian and 
Chinese influence. 

Russia started moving towards the southern and eastern 
regions in 1864 when she occupied Chinkent, followed by 



Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


35 


Tashkent m 1865, Kohj in 1866, Yam Kurgan the next year, 
and Samarkhand the year after that Thus Russian influence 
made a forceful appearance on the outskirts of Chitral, Gilgit 
and the Pamirs — back doors of the British Empire for all 
practical purposes In order to gain authentic information 
about these ominous developments, in 1869 the British 
Government deputed George Hayward on a reconnaissance 
mission to the Pamirs. Mir Wall, the Raja of Yasin, killed him 
near Dardkot 

The continuous feuds between the principalities of Hunza 
and Nagar were a constant destabilizing factor on the frontier 
of Gilgit which neither the British nor the Maharaja was 
prepared to tolerate The inhabitants of the two principalities 
came from one stock and spoke the same language, but there 
had been in the past considerable amount of ill feelings 
between the two communities One reason for this was 
probably religious intolerance While the people of Hunza 
were Maulais (that is, followers of His Highness the Agha 
Khan), those of Nagar were Shias Although both the 
principalities had entered into an alliance of friendship with 
the Dogras in 1870, their mutual enmity and mistrust caused 
occasional disturbance on the frontier. "The immediate point 
in dispute was the claim that both the states laid to Chalt and 
Chaprot forts and the connecting villages that lay between 
Hunza, Nagar and Gilgit . The Maharaja finding no other 
alternative occupied the two forts with his troops in 
conjunction with those of Nagar From then onwards right 
upto 1886, Chalt and Chaprot were held jointly by the 
Jammu & Kashmir and Nagar troops 

The death of Ranbir Singh and accession to the Caddi by 
Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1885 "coincided with the famous 
Panjdeh incident which brought the British on the brink of 
war with Russia". This in turn provided the British the much 
sought after opportunity to carry forward their diplomatic and 
political intrigues in Kashmir and Ladakh At that time the 
State had a reasonably well equipped and a trained Army of 
about 28,000 strong, 66 field and mountain guns and 222 




^6 


Military Plight at Paki<;tan 


fort guns In order to exercise more effective control over 
the region and its strong army, in 1886, the OSD at Srinagar 
was upgraded to a full-fledged British Residency And that 
was the beginning of full British control over the area Sir 
Oliver St John was the first Resident to be succeeded by 
Trevor Chichele Plowden, an officer of the Political 
Department, in March 1888 Thus, fust having ceded the 
territory of Kashmir to the Dogras for their own personal 
convenience, now the stage was being reset by the British to 
regain control of the strategic areas at the time of their own 
choosing, and again to suit their own convenience 

The young Maharaja Pratap Singh was no match against 
the intrigues and plots hatched by the British Resident, T C 
Plowden who went so far as to accuse the new Maharaja of 
plotting to murder him. He sent numerous adverse reports to 
Delhi-London against the Dogra administration. Trumped up 
reports were published in newspapers to malign the Maharaja 
that he was indulging in treasonable activities. All this was 
part of a plot to prepare the ground to annex the State in 
toto. Fortunately for Pratap Singh, Amrit Bazar Patnka 
exposed the plot, all the distance away in Calcutta, The 
newspaper published a secret official note thus publicly 
disclosing the plot hatched to grab the State for the British. 
The British were thus forced to scale down their ambitious 
plan of complete annexation. Nevertheless, in 1889, they 
forced the Maharaja to step down in favour of a Council of 
Regency over which the Resident exercised full control. The 
underlying British objective was to take exclusive control of 
Gilgit and the adjoining frontier areas near the Afghan- 
Russian border. That indeed remained the fulcrum of British 
policy even at the lime of Partition of India, and the resultant 
retrocession of Gilgit to the Maharaja. 

Gilgit Agency 

Fear of Russian aggression and Chinese nibbling 
incursions was the raison d'etre behind excessive British 
interference in the internal affairs of the State on one pretext 


Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


37 


or the other, which in any case were plentiful during the Sikh 
and later the Dogra rule in Kashmir The British OSD was in 
reality an intelligence agent While in 1877, the Jammu Raj 
exercised complete civil and military control over the entire 
Cilgit area, the Gilgit Agency established by the British in 
1889 covering an area of 15,184 sq miles assumed sole 
charge of civil, military and political administration of the 
district north of the Indus River The Government of India 
informed the Secretary of State in London " the advance of 
Russia upto the frontiers of Afghanistan, and the great 
developments of her military resources in Asia, had 
admittedly increased the necessity for strengthening our line 
of defence, and that among the points requiring special 
attention were the northern passes of the Hmdukush which 
afford a difficult but not impracticable route for a force large 
enough to cause excitement if nothing worse, in Kashmir and 
amongst the tribes of Bajour, and perhaps at Jalalabad and on 
the Punjab frontier." 

"The c/e facto administration of Gilgit pa ssed into the 
hands of the British officers and thus came into bemg~th^ 
Gilgit Agency The acquisition of administrative control, 
however, was slow and imperceptible, nor was it categorically 
announced It grew mostly due to the unfettered powers 
enjoyed by the British Resident m Kashmir After Gilgit, the 
northwestern states of Swat, Dir and Chitral were next on 
the British list. However, that part need not burden us here 

Soon after the establishment of the Gilgit Agency in 1889, 
Captain A G Durand visited Hunza and Nagar. On 25 
December 1889, a Political Darbar was held at Gilgit All 
rajas and chieftains of the region were invited. Union Jack 
was unfurled and all those present saluted the flag of the 
British Empire Subsequently, Captain Durand, the British 
Political Agent in Gilgit reorganized the defences of Gilgit and 
also inducted a contingent of Imperial Service Troops to 
bolster up the defence set-up m this remote inhospitable 
area In 1890, a mysterious Russian party in the guise of a 
"hunting expedition" appeared on the Pamirs for secret 



38 


Military Plight of Paki'^tan 


parleys with the Mir of Hunza And that added fuel to the 
fire Next year, Captain Durand informed the rajas and chiefs 
about construction of a track to Chalt fort, but they declined 
After a sharp and short skirmish, the British and the State 
Forces together occupied the states of Nagar and Hunza 
Although the joint forces in the name of the Maharaja 
secured the forts of Nagar and Hunza, in reality the 
expedition was m furtherance of Imperial strategic interests 
The Hunza and Nagar campaigns, as well as other similar 
military expeditions, like the Black Mountain and Chitral 
Expeditions, were paid for from the treasury of the State of 
Jammu and Kashmir, but all in furtherance of the strategic 
interests of the British Empire The name was of the Dogra 
State of Jammu and Kashmir, but the requirement and policy 
was of the British 

Political intrigues, complicated diplomacy and crafty 
manoeuvering continued to be hallmark of the British regime 
Mr. Jagmohan was therefore more than justified when he 
dubbed the "Dogra rule over Kashmir from 1846 to 1947 
more of Dogra-British rule rather than Dogra rule, above all 
because of the British Government's pervasive and decisive 
intervention in the affairs of J & K Their actions and 
reactions were always well timed and they acted only after 
careful consideration of all aspects of the problem No 
wonder therefore that they waited nearly nineteen years to 
avenge the murder of George Hayward by Raja of Yasin. The 
British deputed Colonel Durand to complete the mission. 
Chaprot and Chalt were re-occupied in August by Imperial 
Service Troops. Commandant Gokal and his 150 Sappers and 
Miners worked round the clock to build the road to Chalt 
Fort while men of 1/5 GR helped in rebuilding the Fort.^^ 

In December 1891, "The army of Colonel Durand then 
occupied Misghar, the most extreme point to which British 
influence extended in the north. Thus, British flag reached 
the crest of the Hindukush. A Political Officer was thereafter 
maintained at Hunza. On 15 September 1892, "Raja 
Mohammed Khan was formally installed as the Mir of Hunza 


Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


39 


by the British Agent in the presence of two Chinese envoys 
who attended the Darbar as honoured guests of the 
Government of India 

Concurrently, communications between Gilgit and the 
rest of India, i e , North West Frontier Province were 
improved A mule track and telegraph line connected Gilgit 
with the Residency at Srinagar and from there to the Army 
Headquarters at Delhi Gilgit Transport Service, a semi- 
government concern was given the contract for supply of 
rations, arms and ammunition. This set-up was also made 
responsible to keep Burzil Pass open throughout the year, so 
much so that at times over 1,500 labourers were engaged on 
this task 

The Rajas of Hunza and Nagar attended the Coronation 
Darbar at Delhi on 1®“ January 1903 Since the Mir of Hunza 
had a claim over Raskam and Taghdumbash districts situated 
to the north of Hindukush watershed, he was allowed by the 
British to continue to keep an exchange of presents with the 
Chinese who had acknowledged this claim in writing 
However, both the Mirs acknowledged the suzerainty of the 
Maharaja and paid tributes to him accordingly 

Political darbars, also called jalsas were a regular feature 
of British politico-diplomacy in these far-flung frontier areas 
so as to keep the various nobles under their control During 
such gatherings, these chieftains were required to present 
nazars m the following order of seniority 

Mir of Hunza 
Mir of Nagar 
Governor of Punial 
Governor of Yasin 
Governor of Ishkoman 
Governor of Kuh and Ghizar 
Raja of Gilgit 
Raja of Astor 



40 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


GILGIT UNDER COMPLETE BRITISH CONTROL 

In 1889, one positive fallout from the aforesaid 
machinations of the British was the appointment of Sir Walter 
Lawrence, an officer of the Indian Civil Service, as the 
Settlement Commissioner of the Dogra State The resultant 
extensive land reforms and abolition of begaar provided the 
necessary impetus for developmental activities in the State in 
which the Maharaja played a positive role Fallow lands were 
reclaimed and model farms created Hospitals were built and 
sericulture cooperative banks were established New roads 
and tracks were built. Srinagar linked with Rawalpindi by 
a motorable road in 1890 A fair weather road slowly went 
over the Banihal Pass, which was completed in 1915 The 
court language was changed from Persian to Urdu, and that 
was a very welcome development for the public good. These 
achievements of Pratap Singh prompted the Viceroy in Delhi 
to revoke his earlier orders The Council of Regency was 
abolished and full powers were restored to the Maharaja In 
this connection it should be noted that the British relented 
against Maharaja Pratap Singh only after his State had 
contributed liberally both m men and money towards Chitral 
and Black Mountain Expeditions - in the latter expedition 
over 1,500 all ranks of the State Forces had participated 
solely for the benefit of the British 

Pratap Singh died in 1925 and was succeeded by Han 
Singh who "... began his career with a sensational law suit in 
London Caught in bed with a woman, he was blackmailed 
for a large amount " Four years later. Sir Albion Bannerji, 
his Foreign and Political Adviser lesigned in disgust after a 
mere two years stint in office on account of the Maharaja's 
continuing misrule His statement to the press in 1929 
received wide publicity 

"Jammu and Kashmir State is laboring under many 
disadvantages, with a large Mohammedan population absolutely 
illiterate laboring under poverty and very low economic 
conditions of living in villages and practic*iHy govc'rnc'd like 



Gilgit The Bone of Contention 


47 


dumb driven cattle There is no touch between the government 
and the people, no suitable machinery for representing 
grievances and the administrative machinery itself requires 
overhauling from top to bottom to bring it upto modern 
conditions of efficiency It has no sympathy for the peoples' 
wants and grievances" 

Han Singh also discontinued the practice of shifting the 
State capital to Srinagar m summer Only Rajputs were 
allowed to possess personal weapons Kashmiris were not 
recruited in the Army Non-state subjects were forbidden 
from joining government service The sole beneficiaries of 
this rule were the Rajputs and Kashmiri Pandits thereby 
further fueling Muslim resentment against the Dogra rule 

By the 1930's the Valley was seething with political 
turmoil (More on this m a later chapter) The British were 
also fanning communal discontent and Muslim religious 
movements for their own Imperial interests By this time 
Soviet Russia had extended its hold on Tashkent, Khiva and 
Bokhara Bolshevik literature and spread of communist 
ideology posed a serious danger to British hegemony In 
order to counter these ominous developments, a wireless 
station linked with Peshawar was established at Gilgit. The 
airstrip was strengthened to take on heavier aircraft, besides 
being improved to make it all weather. The military 
establishment was strengthened with a view to restore over- 
thrown Amirs, Beys and Khans in Central Asia British 
missions were also sent to these countries to block, if not to 
reverse the tide of Russian influence m that sensitive region 

"In the political field, much as the Maharaja was resisting 
at every step, the British had after the 1931-32 agitation 
secured his complete surrender With the appointment of 
Colonel E S D Colvin, an Indian Civil Service (ICS) officer, as 
the Prime Minister of the State in February 1932 and three 
other ICS officers as ministers of Home, Revenue and Police, 
the administration of the State could be said to be under the 
Government of India The gaining of control over the State 



42 


Military Plight of PakiUan 


was, however, only a means to an end — the end being, as 
has been noted earlier, to gam undisputed and unhindered 
control over the strategic area of Cilgit. — The underlying 
British objective was to take exclusive control of Gilgit, near 
the Afghan border 

Lease Agreement 

Maharaja Han Singh too realised none too soon that as 
always, Gilgit was the British tender spot and that he would 
not have any respite from British antics till he acquiesced to 
their ambitious overtures in this region Not only there was 
no possibility whatsoever of the British ever agreeing to his 
demand for abolition of the Agency set-up for Gilgit, on the 
contrary, he would have to hand over control of the entire 
region to them Accordingly, administrative control of the 
entire Gilgit Agency lying to the north, and Gilgit Wazarat 
lying to the south of River Indus was handed over to the 
British on a 60 years lease agreement dated 26 March 1935. 
Thus, complete civil, military and political control over the 
entire highly sensitive strategic region passed into the hands 
of the British Consequently, the number of frontier outposts 
required to be maintained by the Maharaja's Government 
was reduced to just four only — one company at Bunji, one 
platoon at Skardu, one platoon at Leh and one section at 
Kargil — and no more The troops for these outposts were to 
be provided from the State Forces Battalion located at 
Srinagar, by rotation This severe scaling down of Maharaja's 
military presence in the strategically vita! area was to have 
devastating consequences twelve years later, not only for the 
Maharaja but more so for the Republic of India. 

The Lease Agreement further authorised the Viceroy and 
Governor General of India to assume civil and military 
government of the Wazarat of Gilgit, although the 
Government of Jammu and Kashmir State retained mining 
rights in the area. Further, "Customary salutes and honours 
would continue to be paid in the territory as hitherto and the 
flag of His Highness was to fly at the official headquarters of 



Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


43 


the Agency throughout the year A classic example of 

British perfidy, and its modus operand/ inconsequential 

gestures of throwing crumbs after grabbing the full loaf 

Cilgit alone was the sole objective of extensive political 
interference in the internal administration of the State as well 
as playing the 'communal card' Having succeeded in 
extracting the Gilgit Lease Agreement, Lt Col E J D Colvin of 
the Foreign and Political Department of the Government of 
India and the then Prime Minister of the State, together with 
the British Resident Colonel L E Lang, relaxed their pressure 
on the Maharaja Leaders of various political and religious 
movements who were till recently receiving active support of 
the British were now slowly left to fend for themselves The 
Anglo-Indian officers and the press in Punjab also fell in line 
A semblance of peace seemed to prevail over the State and 
Its neighbourhood 

Notwithstanding the Lease Agreement, notional 
sovereignty over the territory remained in the jurisdiction of 
the Maharaja, howsoever nominal that may have been And 
that was the legal-constitutional position whose 
consequences we shall see later in this narrative But that was 
no consolation since the wheel of fate had moved full circle 
under the pressure applied through British gimmicks and 
intrigues Out of what they had ceded, they took back what 
they needed, when they needed! 

The British conquered India through military operations, 
political intrigues, conspiracies and what have you in the 
mixed bag of an international trading nation, Cilgit too was 
acquired by them through similar means of crafty 
manoeuvering and deceit And thus they became complete 
masters of the entire vast territories of Northern Areas 

GILGIT IN PAKISTAN’S LAP: KIND COURTESY — THE 

BRITISH 

Direct British control brought development and 
prosperity to the area. Post, telegraph and wireless links were 




44 


Military Plight of Paki'-.tan 


stiengthened Hospitals and dispensaries were provided foi 
public good Surface communications got a boost in as much 
as besides upgradation of the airstrip, 10-ft wide roads were 
constructed From Peshawai side, the Frontiers lllaqa was 
connected by the following two routes 

*Mardan-Saidu-Kalam-Gupis-Gilgit, (in 1947, motorable 
upto Saidu only) 

*Abbotta bad -Balakot- Kagan- Bab usar Pass-Chilas-Bunji- 
Gilgit, (in 1947, motorable upto Balakot only) 

*Srinagar was also linked to Gilgit by the following two 
routes 

*Srinagar-Bandipur-Gurais-Burzil Pass-Astor-Bunji-Cilgit, 
(in 1947, motorable upto Bandipur only) 

*Srinagar-Sonamarg-Baltal-Zoji La-Kargil-Skardu-Gilgit, 
(in 1947, motorable upto Baltal only 

An airstrip was also constructed at Chilas 

Sometime during the mid 1930s, when Russia took over 
virtual control of the Sinkiang, and the Maharaja signed the 
Lease Agreement relinquishing his control over the Wazarat 
of Gilgit, the British raised a para-military force of about 800 
troops named as Gilgit Scouts as a wing of the Frontier 
Scouts This force was officered exclusively by the British and 
was administered from Peshawar in the North-West Frontier 
Province now in Pakistan The State Government had no 
control or connection whatsoever with this force 

Retrocession of Gilgit 

The Mountbatten Plan for the Partition and 
Independence of India was announced on 3"' June 1947 
Under this plan, control over the entire Gilgit region was to 
revert to the jurisdiction of the Maharaja on or about 15 
August 1947, consequent of which the Gilgit Scouts would 
automatically become part of the State Forces of Jammu and 
Kashmir By the same token, British officers serving in the 



Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


45 


Gilgit Scouts would come under the service of the Maharaja 
By virtue of the plan for partition of the defence forces of 
undivided India, these British officers had the option to 
continue m service of the Maharaja with the same loyalty and 
devotion as is expected of such military officers In case their 
loyalty lay else where, they had the honourable course of 
opting for that Dominion, viz , Pakistan, or to seek 
repatriation back to United Kingdom 

On retiocession, the Maharaja was required to make 
necessary arrangements for taking over the administration of 
these territories Before the Lease Agreement of 1935, this 
frontier region was divided into two parts as we have already 
noted, VIZ , firstly the Gilgit Wazarat comprising Giigit tehsil 
and the Niabat of Astor and secondly the Gilgit Agency 
forming the bulk of the frontier ter'-itory comprising of the 
states of Hunza and Nagar, the Shinaki Republics of Chilas 
region, the Chiefships of Punial, Yasin, Kuh-Ghizar, and 
Ishkoman 

Obviously, the lapse of paramountcy and return of the 
region to the Maharaja and establishment of the new 
administration had all to be done with the least possible 
dislocation of the existing administrative arrangements so as 
to ensure smooth transition It was therefore necessary that 
while the Wazarat woulo remain under the direct control of 
the Maharaja as it used to be, the Agency parts had to be 
continued to be administered through the local Mirs/Rajas/ 
Chieftains as was being done by the British Towards this end, 
two urgent steps had to be taken firstly, appointing a 
Governor for the entire Frontier Region, and secondly, for 
the Scouts, who had become part of the State Forces, appoint 
a Commandant whom the Maharaja could trust 
Unfortunately, being fully aware of the fact that the British 
officers in the Scouts had opted for Pakistan, the British 
officer serving as Chief of Staff of the Maharaja's State Forces 
took no steps whatsoever to take control of the Force On the 
contrary, the matters were left to drift in such a manner as to 
suit the imperial purpose and machinations of British policy 
for the strategic region 




46 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


New Governor for Gilgit 

The British handed Cilgit back to the Maharaja on 1 
August 1947, and he appointed Brigadier Ghansara Singh as 
the new Governor with effect from the same date Neither 
Ram Chandra Kak, the Prime Minister of the State nor Major 
General (Retd) H L Scott, CB,DSO,MC, the Chief of Staff, 
were in favour of this appointment In fact, both these key 
players in the administration were opposed to this proposal 
Moreover, since acts of disloyalty by British officers of the 
Scouts had become overt, the appointment of the Governor 
was merely titular in natuie, unless it was accompanied by 
concrete measures to take the military situation also under 
control Be that as it may, the Governor designate 
accompanied by the Chief of Staff dutifully reached Gilgit on 
30 July 1947 to assume his charge He took over the 
administration of the territory on August from the British 
Political Agent, Lieutenant Colonel Roger Bacon The British 
officers of the Scouts informed everyone that, they had opted 
for service in Pakistan and leaving the new Governor to his 
fate, the Chief of Staff returned to Srinagar. General Scott 
does not seem to have been interested in ensuring smooth 
transition of command and control He neither relieved the 
British officers of their commands in Gilgit Scouts, nor did he 
arrange their repatriation to Pakistan, nor did he send any 
reliefs to take over. Keeping those officers whose loyalty was 
to Pakistan, and not to the Maharaja, was most unwise May 
be, It was a deliberate decision To say the least, this 
attitudinal deficiency to duty was least expected from a 
British military officer of the rank of a major general. 

"Having been cut off from Gilgit ever since 1935 when 
the territory was leased out to the British, the State 
authorities do not seem to have realised the great change that 
had taken place in Gilgit since the good old days. Little 
wonder that trouble for the new Governor in establishing his 
control over the province started no sooner than the 
formalities of the handing,'taking over ceremony — such as 
the lowering of the Union Jack, hoisting of the State Flag, the 



Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


47 


firing of the gun-salutes, the playing ot the National Anthems 
and the distribution of sweets to the poor and the children 
were over During the decade and more of rule over Gilgit, 
the British had so controlled the area from Peshawar that the 
staff in Gilgit had come to consider themselves as part of the 
North West Frontier Province Administration 
Consequently, while the civil employees struck work, the 
scouts declined to take the oath of allegiance to the Maharaja 
of Kashmir, pending consideration of their demands with 
regard to increase m pays and allowances and other terms of 
service But that was not all' 

Soon after the Brigadier had taken up his new 
assignment, some leading men of Yassm revolted against the 
Raja Roger Bacon, the Political Agent arrested the leaders of 
the revolt. But the local people were unhappy over this turn 
of events and about 300 of them came over to Gilgit to 
demand release of their leaders. They also complained 
against the atrocities committed by the Raja To make matters 
worse, the Mir of Chitral extended his support to the locals 
against the Raja, which further complicated the tense 
situation The new Governor appeared to be helpless m 
resolving the dispute Neither the State administration at 
Srinagar nor the Maharaja took any interest in this vital 
region The State Government was in a state of limbo on 
account of the uncertainty regarding the accession of the 
State, as well as future political developments m the sub- 
continent Hence, the Governor continued to be a mute 
spectator of fast moving events, leaving him far behind In 
fairness, it must be stated that he did warn His Highness that 
" if the Maharaja acceded to India, the Gilgit Province 
would go to Pakistan because the British officers of the Gilgit 
Scouts as well as Muslim officers in the 6 Jammu and Kashmir 
Infantry wanted Gilgit to go to Pakistan " At the same time, 
reports of preparations for invasion of Gilgit from the 
direction of States of Swat and Chitral, which had acceded 
to Pakistan started pouring in 




48 


Military Plight of Paki'^tan 


Major Brown and Gilgit Scouts 

Major William Brown, a young Scott of 24 years, as 
Commandant of Gilgit Scouts was legally and ethically under 
the service of the Maharaja His Second-in-Command, 
Captain A S Matheison was a little junior to Brown in age 
Brown had earlier known Matheison when the latter was a 
district officer m-charge of the Khassadars in Miranshah 
Although employees of the Maharaja, their loyalty was to 
Pakistan, which they had publicly acknowledged, and 
ultimately to the British Crown However, Brown continued 
with his command and act for and on behalf of Pakistan m a 
most treasonable manner 

Right from the time they were raised about 12 years 
earlier, Gilgit Scouts v'ere by the British and for the British 
with no sense of loyalty to the State of Jammu and Kashmir 
"Brown and Matheison agreed that if the Maharaja did 
accede to India they, with the help of the scouts, would stage 
a coup d'etat and hand it over to Pakistan Details of the 
operation were planned and the code word fixed for putting 
It into operation was 'Datta Khel'"'** Subsequent events, as 
well as general complicity of British officers in trving to tilt the 
balance in favour of Pakistan, and the generous treatment 
later meted out to Major Brown leave little doubt that the 
whole plot was perhaps engineered by the Political 
Department of the British Similarly, "Brown was awarded 
one of the highert Pakistan awaids in 1993 for his role in 
Gilgit about 46 years earlier 

British Imperial sinister designs were behind these 
machinations to secure this strategic piece of real estate in 
the hands of a power that would meet the cold -war ends of 
Western Power politics The British officers in the sub- 
continent were neither mercenaries m the usual sense of the 
word, nor were they altruistic in their outlook The interests 
of their nation always came first and foremost in their 
considerations, more so since the British, particularly the 
uniformed class had not yet come to terms with 


Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


49 


disintegration of the grand British Empire Now, it was well 
known that Prime Minister Nehru was not going to be 
amenable to the Western Powers, the British and the 
Americans, in their quest for allies against the Soviets 
Instead, Pakistan was certainly more than likely to tow the 
Western line Therefore, m order to have a window towards 
the Central Asian Republics of the Soviet Union, it was 
Pakistan rather than India that would be more pliable 
Hence, the imperative that Gilgit must not fall into Indian 
hands The best solution towards that end was to see that the 
whole of the State of Jammu and Kashmir goes to Pakistan 
However, if that was not going to be possible, then, at least 
Gilgit and the adjacent Northern tracts should remain under 
Pak control That was the crux of British-American policy 
And that fitted perfectly with the pro-Muslim tilt of British 
overall policy-concept m the Indian sub-continent 

In those days of poor communications and disturbed 
conditions, essential commodities like salt, sugar, oil and 
cloth were controlled ration stores in that part of the world 
These commodities were a lever in the hands of the 
administration, and their absence or short supply made the 
administration look weak and helpless The British officers 
distributed their complete stocks of all such controlled stores 
without authorization from the Governor. To cap it all, these 
officers were in constant touch with Peshawar to which the 
wireless communications from Gilgit were linked 

Desertions by 6 JAK Battalion 

Besides the Gilgit Scouts, the only other military unit in 
the area was 6 JAK Battalion commanded by Lt Col Abdul 
Majid Khan. Its class composition was two companies of 
Punjabi Musalmans, one of Dogras and one of Sikhs. One of 
the Muslim Company Commanders himself was one of the 
few Gilgitis in the Kashmir Army. All the Muslim officers of 
the Battalion met Major Brown on 24^*’ October when they 
gathered together at Gilgit to celebrate the Maharaja's 
Birthday. It was then that the loose ends of the planned coup 
were tied up. 




50 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


The Battalion was disposed as under 

*Company less on j platoon at Leh under Major Sher 
Singh Thapa 

*Company less one platoon at Skardu, North of Leh, 
under Captain Nek Alam (and Captain Krishan Singh) 

*Two platoons at Kargil 

^Remainder Battalion and Battalion Headquarters at 
Bunji, South of Gilgit. 


.the two Connpanies of 6**’ Jammu and Kashmir 
Infantry located at Bunji and which could be used for the 
external and internal defence of Gilgit happened to be 
Muslims whose loyalties were suspect ever since it was 
known that they had shouted pro-Pakistan slogans on their 
way up from Bandipur to Bunji. For security, therefore, the 
Governor had to choose between the devil and the deep sea 
The other Muslim officers in the Battalion were. Major 
Ehsan All Khan, Captains Mohammed Khan Jarral and M.S 
Durrani, and Lieutenant Ghulam Haider. 

At about 1130 PM on 31 October 1947, Lieutenant 
Haider and about 100 Gilgit Scouts surrounded the 
Governor's residence and sent a delegation of two Hindu 
officials, Naib Tehsildar and the Police Inspector with an 
ultimatum to the Governor to surrender within 1 5 minutes 
failing which all non-Muslims in Gilgit would be killed The 
Muslim officers wanted that every non-Muslim be forcibly 
converted to Islam, or shot The Governor had no option and 
he was made a prisoner. Major Brown became the de facto 
Governor. A provisional government was formed of which the 
leaders were Major Brown, Captain Ehsan All, Captain 
Mohamad Khan, Captain Sayeed, and Lieutenant Haider. 
Subedar Major Babar Khan who had close personal relations 
with the Mir of Hunza and the Mir of Nagar, was a key 
member of this Provisional Government because of his local 
connections.^® "The most Interesting part of this episode was 


Gilgit The Bone of Contention 


51 


the two telegrams which Major Brown sent to Peshawar on 1 
November 1947 These were 

To Khan Abdul Qayum Khan, Prime Minister NWFP 
From Major Brown 
Date 1 Novemberl 947 

'Revolution — night 31 October to 1 November in Gilgit 
Province Entire pro-Pakistan populace has overthrown Dogra 
regime Owing imminent chaos and bloodshed Scouts and 
Muslim officers of State Forces have taken over law and 
order Scouts and Muslim officers of State Forces running 
administration provisionally Request higher authority be 
appointed for orders immediately, and reply through wireless 
— Commandant Scouts ' 


To. Lt. Col Roger Bacon 

'Coup d'etat in favour of Pakistan in Gilgit can carry on 
meantime, but can you help.' 

It IS apparent from the wording of the telegram, that 
Bacon was quite obviously the author of the planned coup 
d'etat"*^ Incidentally, Roger Bacon did give a helping hand in 
as much as he visited Gilgit in January 1948 where he met 
the civil and military officials, thereby setting in motion the 
plan for operations in Ladakh 

On 4th November 1947 Major Brown, at a formal 
ceremony, hoisted the Pakistani flag in the lines of his 
command 

Major Brown ordered his second-in-command. Captain 
Matheison at Chi las to occupy Astor, south of Bunji so as to 
block the line of retreat of the Sikh Company at Bunji 
Captain Matheison secured the ferry at Jaglot, the Ranghat 
Bridge on Astor-Bunji route as also the Partab Bridge on 
Bunji-Gilgit route Captain Hassan of the State Forces and 
Jemadar Sher Khan of the Scouts reached Jaglot on 4*” 
November and the Dogra platoon there surrendered 




52 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Meanwhtle, Major Brown with his Scouts attacked Bunji from 
the north The Sikh troops there finally surrendered Thus, all 
non-Muslim elements of the Frontier Scouts and 6 JAK 
Infantry were liquidated, a few survivors of the massacre took 
shelter m Skardu Fort under Major Sher Jang Thapa of the 
State Forces 

The rulers of six principalities that formed the district of 
Cilgit were divided into two rival factions While the Mirs of 
Hunza and Nagar and the Governor of Yassin were inclined 
towards Pakistan, the Raja of Punial and the Governors of 
Koh Khizar and Ashkomand were loyal to the Maharaja 
However, in fairness to these Muslim Mirs and Rajas, it must 
be recorded that they had no hand whatsoever in this ghastly 
tale of communal massacre Similarly, two Muslim officers of 
local administration — the Revenue Assistant Raja Noor All 
Khan and the Naib Tehsildar Sultan Alam — "remained most 
loyal to the Governor" and suffered the same fate as their 
non-Muslim colleagues 

It is a matter of deep regret that although the Governor 
was appointed at the earliest possible opportunity, and he 
was at his post well in time for assuming his charge, he 
proved to be completely ineffective in dealing with the 
situation. The curtain came down m Gilgit three months after 
the Governor had taken charge: And that was a long time, 
time enough for a determined effort to produce positive 
impact which was sadly lacking. In the end, the Governor, 
the local non-Muslim population, India — all paid a heavy 
price. The British had their way! And the big loser was India. 
However, it must be said to the credit of Major Brown that he 
did succeed in saving the lives of non-Muslim civilians and 
the Governor since no physical harm came to them as might 
otherwise have been expected. The Hindus and Sikhs were 
removed to a refugee camp for further evacuation to 
Pakistan. 

Thus ended the story of treachery and intrigue in Gilgit. 
The civil and military prisoners were treated very shabbily. 


Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


53 


Their condition was pathetic and the treatment meted out to 
them by their old compatriots was most deplorable They 
were evacuated to Attock by Pakistan regular Army Brigadier 
Ghansara Singh was also similarly taken to Pakistan and 
released at Suchetgarh on 1 5 January 1949 after the Cease- 
Fire Agreement 

Pakistan Takes over Gilgit 

The local Liberation Front in the Frontier lllaqas wanted 
complete Independence after throwing out the Maharaja's 
Governor. Shah Rais, an ex-Subedar of Gilgit Scouts and a 
relative of the Raja of Gilgit was a prominent member of this 
Front While there was no pro-India sentiment at all, there 
was no urge amongst the locals to join Pakistan either But, in 
keeping with the Imperial policy. Major Brown was 
completely against any such move. He approached the Chief 
Minister of NWFP requesting for immediate appointment of a 
proper authority from Pakistan to oversee the administration 
in Gilgit area He sent a third message to Peshawar on 13“’ 
November repeating his earlier request Accordingly, on 21 
November 1947, Sardar Mohammed Alam Khan of Provincial 
Service of NWFP arrived from Peshawar as Pakistan's Political 
Agent for Gilgit Agency. The so-called Government of the 
Republic of Gilgit quietly disappeared from the scene without 
much ado. Air services between Pakistan and Gilgit were 
resumed. There was a heavy influx of Pakistani civil and 
military personnel in Gilgit and the adjoining areas Gilgit was 
brought under direct control of Pakistan's Central 
Government to be administered as a Federal Territory, and 
not as a part of the so-called Azad Kashmir 

In December 1947, Lieutenant Colonel Aslam of Pakistan 
Army assumed command of Gilgit Scouts He merged the 
men of 6 JAK Infantry and Gilgit Scouts into one entity and 
organized his command into four Wings, each of 400 rifles, a 
total of about 2,000 men, as follows* 

*A Wing- Captain Mohammed Khan Jarral Punjabi 
Musalmans ex State Forces. 




54 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


*B Wing Major Ehsan All Khan Men from Punial, Gupis 
and Gilgit 

*C Wing Lieutenant Mohammed Shah Khan Men from 
Hunza and Nagar 

*D Wing Lieutenant Babar Khan Men from Hunza and 
Nagar 

This force had six 3-inch mortars and six MMGs In 
addition, another 2000 locals were recruited, trained and 
equipped thus making Gilgit a strong Pakistani outpost 

British retrocession of Gilgit to the Maharaja at a most 
critical juncture in the history of the sub-continent was part 
of a deliberate plan to transfer the sensitive strategic region to 
Pakistan so that it shall remain available to the Western 
Powers for their military and subversive activities against the 
Soviet Union After all, the Governments in London and 
Washington must have been aware that Pandit Jawahar Lai 
Nehru, the future Prime Minister of independent India with 
his socialistic and non-aligned rhetoric, would not permit use 
of Jammu and Kashmir (read Indian territory) for any 
nefarious Imperialistic activities in that geo-strategic region. It 
was a British conspiracy, planned and executed by British 
officers The chief actor of this drama. Major William Brown, 
on his return to United Kingdom was suitably rewarded for 
the services rendered to the British Crown by the award of an 
O.B E 

The net result of these developments was that 
approximately 1 7,500 square miles of highly strategic region 
passed into Pakistani hands without the enemy having to fire 
a shot in anger Pakistan got possession of Gilgit literally on a 
platter, thereby opening the way for subsequent Pak 
mcilrstonsinto Ladakh, Gurais and Tilel Valleys, Zojila, and 
the capture of Skardu. Lord Curzon had written: "Cilgit is 
one of the northern gates of India, through which a would be 
invader must advance, if he advances at all." That gateway 
now belonged to Pakistan. 


Gligtt The Bone of Contention 


55 


The vital importance of Gilgit to Pakistan, China and their 
friendly associate powers in the West can be further gauged 
from the famous Sino-Pak Karakoram Highway — politically 
named as the "Friendship Highway" opened on 16 May 1983 
— from Kasha (Kashghar) along the Indus Valley going all the 
way down to Karachi, linking Sinkiang to Pakistan The road 
does not follow the 15,600-ft Mintaka Pass route, which was 
the traditional route from Tashkurgham to Hunza, instead it 
goes over the Khunjerab Pass to Gilgit-Chilas-Thakot-Havelian 
for a distance of 774 km It is a single lane fair weather road 
over the Pass and upto Cilgit, whence it is an all weather two 
lane seven meters wide black-topped road all the way 
through Pakistan 

The construction of this highway in 1978 completely 
altered the strategic scenario of this entire, otherwise bare 
and bleak region, directly affecting the geo-political situation 
of not only the State of Jammu and Kashmir but of the entire 
Indian sub-continent This road, along with the Aksaichin 
route provides major avenues of ingress to Chinese forces 
into Ladakh Conversely, any power having bases in Ladakh 
can effectively interfere with Tibet and Xingjiang regions of 
China, besides Pakistan Thus, Ladakh, Gilgit and contiguous 
northern areas constitute the hub of strategic territory for 
India, Pakistan and China "The occupation of North-Western 
areas of Ladakh by Pakistan have precluded a direct overland 
route between Afghanistan, Central Asia and India This is a 
major strategic setback from the Indian point of view"®^ 

The newly formed Government of independent India 
cannot possibly be castigated for their failure to stem the Pak 
advance in the far-flung distant corner of the old Empire 
However, seeds of far reaching strategical consequences of 
immense politico-military significance were lying dormant in 
these gory developments Besides the international 
implications for the whole of Central and South Asia, the loss 
of Gilgit by India, and its gain by Pakistan, threw open the 
floodgates for Pakistani advance to Skardu, and thus 
occupation of the whole of Baltistan. Further advance to 



56 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Kargil would soon pose a direct threat to Leh-Ladakh, and 
open routes of ingress to Zojila, Gurais and Tilel Valleys And 
to cap It all, if Cilgit had not been thrown into the lap of 
Pakistan by Major Brown, the highest battlefield in the world, 
Siachin, would perhaps not have come into being As far the 
Karakoram Highway — well, it is pointless to flog the dead 
horse any more It was ADVANTAGE PAKISTAN all the way 


NOTES & REFERENCES 

1 Vohra Sahdev, "Routes and Tracks from Central Asia to Kashmir" 
— article reproduced in "The Story of Kashmir Yesterday and To- 
day", Volume i, edited by Verinder Grover, Deep & Deep Publica- 
tions, New Delhi, 1995, pp 79-82. 

2.Hassnain FM , "Gilgit, The Northern Gate of India", Sterling 
Publishers, New Delhi 1 978, p 2 

3 Vohra Sahdev, op cit p 79 

4 Bandipur to Gilgit used to be a 17-day march including 4 days 
for rest enroute The track followed Tragbal, Kurgbal, Churwan, 
Peshwari, Burzil, Chillum, Gudai, Astore, Dashkin, Doain, Bunji, 
Pari, and Gilgit From Tragbal to Chilas used to be 6 days march via 
Misri Bukh, Kalalot, Dila, Baraj and Niat From Churwan to Rattu 
used to take 4 days via Kamri, Kalapani and Shankargarh while 
from Gilgit to Gupis was also four days via Sherote and Gakuch — 
Brahma Singh K, Major, "History of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles 
(1820-1956)", Lancer International, New Delhi 1990, pp.298- 
300 

5.Hasnain, op cit p 12 

6 Bamazi Prithvi Nath Kaul, "A History of Kashmir: Political-Social- 
Cultural from the Earliest Times to the Present Day", Metropolitan 
Book Company, Delhi, 1962. 

7 Sir Francis Younghusband, the British Political Resident as quoted 
by Jagmohan in "My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir", Allied Pub- 
lishers, New Delhi, 1991 ; p,65. 



Cilgit The Bone of Contention 


57 


8 Kishore Singh's ancestor Raja Druv Dev had come into promi- 
nence after the Indian invasion of Nadir Shah in 1738-39 Kishore 
Singh had three sons Gulab Singh, Dhian Singh and Suchet Singh 
All three of them found prominent positions in the Sikh Darbar at 
Lahore 

9 Bamzai, op cit ? 

10 Zorawar Singh was born in Chaloor in Kangra in Himachal 
Pradesh ml 786 

1 1 Bamzai, op cit ? 

12 Cunn4gham Alexander, "Conquest of Ladakh" — an article re- 
produced in "The Story of Kashmir" Vol I, op cit ; pp 1 1 9-123 

13 Zorawar Singh did not follow the Zojila route to reach Drass, 
instead, he went up the Suru Valley and then came to Drass via 
Kargil 

14 The Shardaji Fort was built in 1851 on the bank of river 
Krishenganga after the conquest of Chilas to check raids of 
Yaqistanis The Fort was capable of holding a garrison of 100 men 
The Fort came in very handy for locating the headquarters of 
troops employed on anti-Kuth-smuggling operations in the area 
Inside the Fort used to be 'Shardaji Ka Kund' in which an octago- 
nal idol was kept and the temple of 'Amrit Kund' where sick per- 
sons bathed and are reported to get cured In 1937 it was garri- 
soned by 15 rank and file of Fort Guards — Major K Brahma 
Singh, " History of Jammu & Kashmir Rifles", op cit., p 297 

15 Bamzai; op cit p 570 

16. Panikar K Avl ^ "The "^piinding of the Kashmir State", George 
Allen and Unwin/-’ London, 1953, p 82. Also, "Treaty of Amritsar 
and the Foundation of the Kashmir State" — article published in 
"The Story of Kashmir: Yesterday and Today", op cit pp 92-1 1 3 

17 Palit D.K , VrC, Major General, "Jammu And Kashmir Arms 
History of the J & K Rifles", Palit & Dutt Publishers, Dehradun, 
1972, p 46 

18 Bhattacharjea, Ajit, "Kashmir, The Wounded Valley" UBS Pub- 




58 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


lishers, New Delhi, 1994, p 51. 

1 9 Kapur ML, "Kashmir Sold" — article published in "The Story of 
Kashmir", op cit pp 55-62 

20 Jagmohan, op cit p 72. 

21 "Treaty of Amritsar and the Foundation of the Kashmir State" 
by K M Panikar in "The Story of Kashmir Yesterday and Today", 
op cit pp 92-1 1 3 

22 Lord Hardinge's dispatch dated 19 March 1846 to London, as 
quoted by Jagmohan, op cit p 72-73 

23. Kapur ML, op cit 

24 Bhattacharjea; op cit p 57 

25 Bamzai, op cit p 655 

26 A similar severe famine in 1746-47 is reported to have re- 
sulted in the death of more than half of the population 

27 Till lately, this system was also prevalent in the tribal areas of 
North-Eastern India where the village headman was obliged to 
provide porters to visiting government officials, e.g., in the old 
Lushai Hills district of Assam, now Mizoram, the Deputy Commis- 
sioner used to issue a "Lai Zaung Zaung Parwana" on the authority 
of which the headman was obliged to provide the number of por- 
ters demanded, of course on payment of wages at the official 
rates 

28 Hasnain, op. cit p 65 

29 Brahma Singh K, op. cit. p,52 

30 Ibid. P53. 

31. Ibid p57. 

32 Bhattacharjea, op. cit p.59 

33 Bamzai, Prithvi Nath Kaul; op. cit. p 627 


Cilgit The Bone of-Contention 


59 


34 Jagmohan, op cit p 75 

35 Brahma Singh, op cit pp 68-69 

36 Ibid p 628 

37 Hasnain, op cit p 41 

38 Ibid p 124 

39 Ibid. R63 

40 Bamzai, op cit pp 625-628. 

41 Brahma Singh, op cit pp 164-65 

42 Hasnain, op cit p 8 
43:&rahma Singh, op at. p 218 

44 Chibber, Lieutenant General, "Pakistan's Criminal Folly in 
Kashmir", Manas Publications, New Delhi, 1998, p 104 

45 "DATTA KHEL, was a name obviously dragged out of Major 
Brown's nostalgic association with the Tochi Scouts Datta Khel 
was a garrison post of the Tochi Scouts, which was constantly ha- 
rassed by the Faqir of Ipi, who at one time claimed or had the 
sympathies of the Indian National Congress and Badshah Khan In 
May 1 942 the Faqir's Lashkar surrounded Datta Khel The garrison 
post was surrounded for over three months and saw some heavy 
fighting, including the shooting down of a RAF plane The siege 
was finally broken, as was the Faqir of Ipi himself and Datta Khel 
passed into the history of the Tochi Scouts and the memory of Ma- 
jor Brown A 'Datta Khel' in reverse was now planned in Gilgit " — 
Madan Vijay, Lieutenant General, "Jammu and Kashmir Opera- 
tions, 1947-48 The Other Version", USI Journal, July-September 
1992, pp 311 

46 Chibber M.L , op cit p 55 

47 Brahma Singh, op at p218. 

48 Subedar Major Babar Khan was an uncle of Mir of Nagar and 
his wife was a sister of Mir of Hunza. 



60 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


49 Chibber M L , op cit pp 56-57 quoting Trench Charles 
Cheevix in 'Frontier Scouts', Butter and Tanner Ltd , London, 
1985 

50 Hasnain, op cit p 158 

51 Madan Vijay, op cit P313 

52 Riza Shaukat, Major General, "The Pakistan Army 1947-49", 
Natraj Publishers, Dehradun, First Indian Edition 1997, p 291 

53 Karim Afsir, Major General with the Indian Defence Review 
Team, " Kashmir, The Troubled Frontiers", Edited by Captain 
Bharat Verma and Manvendra Singh, Lancer Publishers, New 
Delhi, 1994, p 20 

54 Riza Shaukat, op at p 292 


2 . 

THE FALL OF SKAROU 
"All Sikhs Shot, All Women 

Raped" 


The enemy commander sent a rather pompously worded 
message to Lieutenant Colonel Sher Jung Thapa/ commander 
of the Indian garrison besieged in Skardu Fort,^ " in the 
name of Allah, I demand they surrender and I swear by the 
Holy Book that no harm would come to thee surrendereth " 
But the Army Commander, Lieutenant General K M 
Cariappa's decision was that Thapa must continue as long as 
possible "And ultimately at 8 am on the 14**^ of August this 
gallant garrison was forced to raise the white flag " 
Commander of the victorious Pakistani troops reported back 
to his headquarters "All Sikhs shot, all women raped 

Skardu at 7,700 ft AMSL is situated at the confluence of 
Indus and Shigar rivers It lies on the route southeast from 
Gilgit, along the Indus, to Kargil/Leh While Leh was the 
summer capital of Ladakh, the administration used to shift to 
Skardu during the winter months Here the Indus valley is 
known as Baltistan covering an area of 6,522 square miles Its 
capital town, Skardu lies almost midway between Gilgit and 
Kargil From Skardu, there were two direct routes to the Astor 
valley towards the west One, over Alampi-La about 16,000 
ft, and the other across Banak-La at 1 5,5000 ft AMSL through 
the Pan Shing valley Virtual control of Gilgit by Pakistan, 
conferred on Pakistan the added advantage of dominating the 
entire region down the Indus and Astor rivers 





»UNDAR}ES 




The Fall of Skardu "All Sikhs 


63 


Skardu is a small narrow valley divided into two parts by 
river Indus, which is generally fordable all along the valley 
Except for the sandy belt about one mile wide along the 
riverbank, the whole valley, about 12 miles long and varying 
in width from one to four miles is very fertile and thickly 
populated This flat stretch of land is dominated by a lone hill 
at Skardu with its peak at 8,853 ft, otherwise steep, bleak 
and barren high mountain peaks varying between 15,800 to 
18,403 ft AMSL surrounds the Skardu valley It snows heavily 
in the area during winter 

After the fall of Gilgit and Bunji, as well as loss of two 
companies and imprisonment of his commanding officer 
Lieutenant Colonel Majid Khan in Gilgit, the Second-in 
Command, Major Sher Jung Thapa assumed the command of 
his Battalion He was then based at Leh and was in overall 
command of State troops at Leh, Kargil and Skardu Since 
Skardu was threatened, Thapa left Leh on 23 November 
1947 with two JCOs** and 75 Other Ranks and reached 
Skardu on 3'*' December On the way, one day before 
reaching Skardu, Thapa sighted a small aircraft, a Harvard 
obviously on a reconnaissance mission for Pakistan 

Skardu used to be a rather big tehsil comprising of five 
sub-divisions of Kharmang, Khapalu, Shigar, Skardu and 
Rondu, each of which was actually a jagir under its own 
jagirdar locally known as the Rajas. Baltistan is bounded on 
the east and northeast by the Haramosh Range of the lofty 
Karakoram Mountains, and by the Dosai Mountains on the 
west and southwest Thus, Skardu was naturally so well 
protected from three sides that, during winter it was 
vulnerable only from the direction of Cilgit-Bunji area via 
Rondu Therefore, Lt Col Thapa established his forward 
defences about 20 miles north at Tsari on both banks of River 
Indus. He positioned the Muslim platoon on the far bank 
under Captain Nek Alam, and the Sikh platoon on the near 
side under Captain Kishan Singh. Concurrently, he 
constructed a rough landing strip, about 1,000 yards long in 
area of Rang in the hope of receiving air supplies."® 




64 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Thapa appreciated that, with Cilgit and Bunji in enemy 
hands, Skardu as a defensive position was untenable 
Moreover, it had very little tactical and much less strategic 
value He therefore sought permission from Brigadier L P 
Sen, DSO, Commander 161 Infantry Brigade, who had by 
then taken overall charge of military operations in Kashmir 
and the Northern Sector, to withdraw to Kargil He wanted to 
hold Kargil in reasonable strength rather than dissipate his 
meagre resources in penny pockets along the enemy's route 
of advance, more so since Kargil controlled the routes to Leh 
and Zojila Pass and was therefore vital for the defence of the 
entire area Like Gilgit in the north, Kargil was the key to the 
defence in the south, while Skardu was " in fact nothing 
more than a Flag Flying Outpost, which would one day be 
forced into surrender through starvation and the inability of 
the garrison to strike back in self defence 

Brigadier Sen agreed with Colonel Thapa's assessment of 
the situation and relayed his concurrence of the proposal to 
Jammu Unfortunately, the higher military brass turned down 
this obviously reasonable and militarily sound proposition 
Brigadier Sen again approached Headquarters JAK Force 
emphasizing that Skardu was neither of any strategic nor 
tactical value to the conduct of operations in the Valley and 
Ladakh, and that siege of Skardu was imminent which the 
Indian army would not be m a position to lift in the 
foreseeable future. Therefore, no military advantage would 
accrue from holding on to Skardu and sacrificing innocent 
lives besides squandering away our scarce resources Major 
General Kalwant Singh's order came "Last Man, Last Round" 

The State Forces headquarters at Srinagar decided to 
reinforce the Skardu garrison. Accordingly, one company plus 
of State troops, about 160 m all, under Captain Prabhat Singh 
assisted by Lieutenants Ajit Singh and Bhagat Singh left 
Srinagar by bus on 13 January 1948 to undertake a hazardous 
march ov^r the treacherous 11,578-ft Zojila pass during the 
thick of a severe winter. The column had to foot it out right 
from Kangan itself, about 25 miles from Srinagar, due to 



The Fall ofSkardu "All Sikhs 


65 


heavy snowfall in the area At Sonamarg, the force split into 
three groups, one under each officer, to cross the Pass, a 
formidable most dangerous undertaking indeed in the thick 
of winter "Movement was naturally slow as each individual 
had to follow the foot prints of the man in front and a step to 
the right or left would throw the man chest deep in snow 
Added to this was the intense cold (mercury dipping well 
below minus 40° C) which the men had to bear without snow 
clothing " resulting in some casualties, including one fatal, 
due to cold and frostbite After an arduous journey of more 
than 115 miles, the column assembled at Kargil on 1®* 
February and the first group under Captain Prabhat Singh left 
for Skardu on the 5*”, Naturally, the column suffered frost 
bite, trench-foot, insomnia and breathlessness. The leading 
elements of the column, about 20 persons covered the 95 
miles from Kargil to Skardu m the usual five stages — Olding, 
Bagicha, Tolti, Parkutta, and Col — and reached Skardu in a 
deplorable state on 10^'’ February 1948.^ 

Raiders Advance to Skardu 

Meanwhile, on 29 January the enemy concentrated his 
force in Haramosh village, about 16 miles east of Gilgit and 
made contact with Thapa's forward defences at Tsari The 
Muslim platoon deployed on the far bank joined hands with 
their co-religionists and, on night 9/10 February 
overwhelmed the Sikh platoon deployed on the near bank 
The Sikhs died fighting, of were captured and shot, 
murdered by their own erstwhile comrades in arms. Thapa 
did not know of the tragedy that had struck the Tsari 
defences since the only means of communication was 
through runners, and none escaped the horrendous massacre 
to carry the sad news of the debacle. 

Having decimated the forward defence line at Tsari, the 
enemy force was now poised for assault on the town of 
Skardu 

It may be recalled that Colonel Aslam, the new 
Commandant of Gilgit Scouts had reorganized his command 



66 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


into three groups The Ibex Force comprised of about eighty 
Punjabi Musalmans deserters of 6 JAK Infantry, Frontier 
Constabulary, Chitralis and other tribals under Major Ehsan 
All Khan and Captair Mohammed Khan along with some 
Gilgit Scouts under Lieutenant Babbar Khan making a total of 
about 600 well equipped troops These disparate elements 
were stiffened and officered by the regulars from Pak Army It 
speaks volumes for the organizing ability and leadership of 
these Pak Army officers who welded together such a 
heterogeneous group of highly temperamental people into an 
effective and efficient fighting outfit, making sure that their 
potential as guerrilla fighters adept at hit and run tactics was 
retained in its entirety and fully exploited 

This force attacked Skardu town on night 10/11 February 
They ransacked the town, killed and looted at will. During 
this orgy of rape and plunder inflicted on the hapless civil 
population, the Wazir-i-Wazarat Amar Nath, Engineer B L 
Gupta, a sub-insp.e(ior of police and the headmaster of a 
high school were killed, besides many other non-Muslims 
However, many Hindus and Sikhs managed to run into the 
defensive perimeter for protection. The attack came as a 
complete surprise to the non-Muslim population as well as to 
the Skardu Garrison Commander, since "the fanatic Muslims 
in the area were helping Pakistani forces so completely that 
not a word was uttered by them about the attack on Tsan and 
the massacre of the platoon " They knew that the enemy was 
coming. They took all precautions to see that we were kept 
in the dark and then were attacked by surprise... They 
wanted the Pakistan flag to fly over them . . And to them 
'Pakistan' was the sweetest word " Nonetheless, the 
defenders put up a stiff fight, which lasted about six hours, 
and the hostiles retreated leaving behind ten dead and one 
wounded who was taken prisoner. The enemy also left 
behind one MMG, some rifles, one 3" mortar and some 
ammunition. This was indeed a commendable performance 
by Thapa's men who suffered seven killed and 16 wounded.® 


The Fall of Skardu "All Sikhs 


67 


The slight respite in the fighting resulting from withdrawal 
by the enemy came as a much-needed relief to the garrison 
Thapa withdrew all his lightly held outposts and concentrated 
his unit in the Fort To make the already bad situation still 
worse, 31 Muslim troops inside the Fort including three 
Muslim wireless operators deserted and joined the enemy's 
swelling ranks However, very fortunately, the only wireless 
set remained safe in one of the rooms of Thapa's bungalow 

THE SIEGE OF SKARDU 

The enemy regrouped quickly On 12th February Ibex 
Force surrounded Skardu The siege of Skardu had begun as 
expected The mam body of the reinforcing column which 
had left Srinagar on 13 January joined the Fort in two groups, 
70 each, on 13th and 15th February, again in extremely poor 
physical condition raising the ration strength of the besieged 
garrison to 285 without any worthwhile military advantage. At 
this time, 229 non-Muslim and 19 Muslim refugees and 22 
Muslim prisoners were also taking shelter in the Fort 
Meanwhile, the intensity and frequency of enemy attacks 
increased greatly, and took a heavy toll of the men and their 
ammunition stocks which, along with the rations, kept 
dwindling to dangerously low levels The scale of ration per 
man went down with each passing day. The number of sick 
and wounded increased datty while the stocks of medicines 
kept exhausting. "The men bore all these privations with 
fortitude in the hope that they would soon be joined by the 
Indian Army and using Skardu as a base, be able to recapture 
Gilgit, for the annexation of which their forefathers had shed 
so much blood. 

Soon after the news of the siege reached Srinagar, 
another column of reinforcements comprising of a weak 
company of assorted troops, two MMGs and two 2" mortars 
was organized, and that left Srinagar on 16 February 1948 
Another blunder in the Himalayas was soon to be 
consummated across the Himalayas! 




66 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


The fresh reinforcements were dispatched, strangely, 
under the command of Brigadier Faqir Singh as if the high 
rank of the column commander would deter the elements 
enroute, or the enemy at Skardu' "Even more strangely the 
obnoxious practice of British days seems to have been 
revived by attaching one Indian Army Officer, Major Coutts"^^ 
(Victor Coutts of 6 Raj Rif) The unforgiving mountains, high 
altitude and the arctic cold took their usual toll as they had 
done earlier for times immemorial The column crossed 
Zojila under almost impossible weather conditions and 
reached Kargil on 1 March After a few days' rest and 
making necessary arrangements for porter's etc, the column 
advanced north from Kargil on 8“*' March, They left Gol on 
the 17* on the last stage to Skardu and were marching along, 
but without tactically securing the flanking heights. Major 
Mohammed Khan Jarral commanding A Wing of the Scouts 
forming part of the Ibex Force ambushed this column near 
Nurhbuchung on River Indus at the gorge of Thurgon Pan, 
about 10 miles east of Skardu, inflicting heavy casualties — 
26 killed, 18 wounded and 7 missing. Leaving their dead 
behind, the column fell back in confusion losing much of the 
booty and war materials to the raiders, a veritable cache that 
Thapa was anxiously awaiting. The column returned to Kargil 
in disarray on the 21* where the wounded received first aid 
at the civil dispensary. Both the Brigadier and the Major 
failed to follow the elementary principles of fire and 
movement tactics, and this failure proved very costly to the 
men of the column. The Brigadier who was also wounded 
handed over command to Major Coutts and returned to 
Srinagar. Thus ended the second attempt to reinforce Skardu 

"The fact that the column had to turn ' ack after reaching 
so close to Skardu was most tragic. The tragedy was all the 
more heightened after It became known that the Skardu 
Garrison had sent out two platoons under Lieutenant Ajit 
Singh (accompanied by Major Thapa himself) towards Gol to 
receive the relief column half way, but unfortunately this was 
done on 1 8 March which happened to be a day too late"’^. 


The Fall of Skardu "All Sikhs 


69 


not because of any fault on the part of Thapa, but primarily 
because the column did not have any wireless set and 
Srinagar had informed the expected time of arrival of the 
column as 1 8'*’ March. "Had the column arrived on the 18'*’ 
as scheduled, the enemy would have been in trouble with 
me on his one side and Brigadier Faqir Singh on the other."” 

On S''* March Skardu reported to Headquarters 161 
Infantry Brigade that about 500 armed men and 200 porters 
" had arrived there from the direction of Gilgit. They had 
camped the night m the vicinity of Skardu town, and had set 
off the next morning m an easterly direction, presumably 
heading for Kargil. This information was also confirmed by a 
wireless intercept, and left no shadow of doubt that 
Operation Sledge was now under way " Obviously, with siege 
in place, the enemy was bypassing Skardu and heading for 
Kargil which was the second major objective of Ibex Force. 
The threat to Leh was looming large on the horizon. The 
Brigade passed on this vital piece of information to Mr. D R 
Dhar who was coordinating military operational matters with 
the National Conference led civil authorities m Srinagar. 
"During the discussion that followed, 'DP' evinced deep 
anxiety at the prospect of Leh being attacked The Ladakhis, 
he stressed, were completely unarmed and at the mercy of 
the raiders The monastery at Leh would be ransacked, and 
unless we did something about it, there would be serious 
repercussions in the Buddhist world 

In the meantime, enemy continued to make concerted 
bids to break through the defences of Skardu, and the 
garrison kept fighting back "The tempo was now rising On 
28 March at 0300 hours the enemy launched a well prepared 
and determined attack two hours later i.e. at 0500 hours 
the enemy launched yet another attack, this time on a much 
larger scale on all our Piquets and from all directions. A 
^yrious battle developed which lasted throughout the day... 
Next morning at dawn we successfully counter-attacked with 
a platoon and the enemy fell back, leaving behind 20 dead. 
We suffered four killed and ten wounded .. Another similar 



70 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


bid to break through our defences on 1 7 April was again 
beaten back ..The enemy, however, had succeeded in 
establishing his positions very close to ours — in some cases 
only 20 yards from our position. It was an eyeball to eyeball 
confrontation..."^® 

Last Relief Column to Skardu 

The Indian high command refused to see the writing on 
the wall The powers that be once again decided to to make 
yet another attempt to provide succour to Skardu Another 
Himalayan blunder conceived in the Himalays to explode 
into failure in the trans-Himalayas However, the only lesson 
learnt from previous experiences was that this time around, 
the reinforcing column was proposed to be much stronger. 
Code named "Biscuit Column", it comprised of two Dogra 
companies of 7 JAK Battalion from Srinagar and the full- 
fledged Battalion of 5 JAK from Jammu The two companies 
of the 7'*’ were marched off immediately, in platoon groups, 
an<^ reached Kargil by first week of April where they were 
placed under command of Major Coutts. As usual, the 
elements and the terrain took their toll on the men. The 
Column was directed by 163 Infantry Brigade to move down 
the Indus valley to Parkutta, south of the confluence of Shyok 
with the Indus, and await arrival of 5 JAK Battalion 

Meanwhile, 5 JAK Battalion less one company were 
airlifted from Jammu to Srinagar and the remaining company 
was moved to Srinagar by road. On 3 '^^ April the first batch of 
5 JAK left Srinagar under command of Lt Col Sampuran 
Bachan Singh of Indian Army (1 Sikh) The Commanding 
Officer of the Battalion, Lt. Col Kripal Singh followed in the 
third batch while the rest of the Battalion comprising of A and 
C Companies made up three batches in the tail of the 
column. Thus, 5 JAK was moving up the mountains in a 
widely dispersed manner in six batches, which is perhaps 
understandable since the route over Zejila-Drass-Kargil sector 
necessitated move in smaller groups, particularly in the 
Zojila-Matayan stretch As a result, on 14*'’ April while the 


The Fall of Skardu "All Sikhs 


71 


two companies plus column under Major Coutts was about 
eight miles ahead of Bagicha on their way to Tolti-Parkutta, 
the first batch of 5 JAK from Srinagar was arriving at Kargil, 
the second was near Drass, the third at Matayan, and the last 
two at Gumri, since the sixth batch was still at Srinagar’^ 

Major Coutts' column reached Parkutta on 17'*’ April and 
was engaged by Major Jarral's troops who had already 
inflicted heavy casualties when they ambushed the earlier 
column of which the Major had been a part of. While Kripal 
Singh with his part of the column reached Kargil on the 30‘^ 
Sampuran Bachan Singh's column joined Coutts' column at 
Parkutta on the 28*'’. Thus by the first week of May, the series 
of relief columns sent for the benefit of Skardu were strung all 
along the mule track from Sonamarg on the south of the 
Great Himalayan Range to Parkutta on the other side with 
detachments at Gund, Pindrass, Drass and Kargil. In 
retrospect, one can both laugh and cry over the situation of 
the State Forces troops who were being made a pawn in the 
hands of inexperienced Indian commanders, at least one of 
whom did not have the inclination to fight 

Enemy's Daring Stroke. 

It was the enemy commander Major Jarral who had the 
last laugh' He had fairly accurate intelligence reports about 
the widely scattered relief column and decided to act boldly. 
Recasting his earlier plans, he left about two hundred men 
under Colonel Shahzada Mata-ul-Mulk, the brother of Mehtar 
of Chitral, who had earlier been an officer in Subhash 
Chandra Bose's Indian National Army during World War II, to 
continue with the siege of Skardu and also to block the 
advance of Indian troops stuck at Parkutta He divided his 
remaining force and planned to send them out in batches for 
a right hook against the Indian line of communication from 
Sonamarg to Kargil The base for this right hook was to be 
Chilam Chowki on the mam Gilgit-Snnagar route and the 
objectives were Gund, Pindrass, Drass and Kargil, all 
simultaneously on the same date, viz. 10*'' May 1948 — "a 




72 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


brilliant and daring stroke, designed to destroy the Indian 
forces before him, capture Kargil itself and make the fall of 
Skardu virtually certain " 

The defence potential at Kargil had been dissipated to 
such an extent that by the end of April 1948, Kargil garrison 
had been reduced to just one platoon of 7 JAK under Captain 
Lachman Das Silwal The enemy column of about 150 men 
with two 3 mortars advanced down the Shingo river, 
completely surprised a section of the troops guarding the 
Kharal bridge across the Shmgo about 10 miles from Kargil, 
and then attacked the Kargil post on night 9/10 May 1948 
The question of putting up a fight just did not arise since 
there was hardly any one left to put up a fight The small 
garrison retreated to Kokarnag accompanied by the local 
Hindu civil officials, thus Kargil fell into enemy hands on 10* 
May 1948 without a fight And that indeed was a bright 
feather in Major Jarral's cap, the crowing piece of a daring 
plan 

The main relief column strung between Kargil and 
Parkutta was attacked piece-meal by the enemy in front, and 
the enemy in the rear, and suffered many casualties 
Sampuran Bachan Singh and Coutts managed to save their 
lives by swimming across the Indus They reached Khalatse 
on 13* May and thence Leh where their arrival considerably 
lowered the civil morale 

On 10* May the situation became still grimmer vvhen the 
enemy surrounded the State Forces two-platoon garrison at 
Drass commanded by Captain Kashmir Singh This small 
contingent of 5 JAK Battalion held on till the end of the 
month while a company plus of the same Battalion under 
Captain Rachpal Singh was then at Machoi When Kashmir 
Singh could not hold on any longer because his stocks of food 
supplies and ammunition had exhausted, this garrison slipped 
out of Drass on night 6/7 June in an effort to join the Machoi 
garrison The enemy chased them In the sharp engagement 
that followed at Pindrass, the Captain and all the JCOs were 



The Fall of Skardu "All Sikhs 


73 


killed A few lucky survivors managed to reach Machoi on 
11“'’ June 1948 Thus Drass too fell into enemy hands 
However, the saving grace was the company plus garrison of 
5 JAK at Machoi under Rachpal Singh that was still holding 
out as a sort of outpost against the hostiles attempting a bee- 
line down the Zojila towards the Valley 

Abortive Attempt to Recapture Kargil 

The fall of Kargil and Drass seems to have had a 
devastating effect not only on those who were facing the 
bullets, but on the higher command too A wireless order was 
issued on 16 May 1948 ordering the commander of the ill 
fated garrison of Skardu to break out of the enemy's shackles 
and withdraw to Olthing Thang along with the refugees, and 
from there assist in the recapture of Kargil. Besides being a 
humanly impossible assignment, this was a most unrealistic 
order, which clearly showed that the commander(s) and staffs 
at Srinagar-jammu-Delhi were completely divorced from the 
ground realities of the situation Evidently, they do not seem 
to have appreciated the impact of a long drawn siege on the 
minds and bodies of the defenders, their physical conditions 
and the privations endured over a prolonged period of about 
four months, shortage of rations and ammunition, et a/ 
Above all is the question of morale The adverse effect on the 
psyche of troops whose comrades in arms with whom they 
have served together for years suddenly turn as their enemies 
can be devastating, to say the least. All these factors seem to 
have been lost sight of while issuing such a stupid order And 
at the receiving end, such an order could only add to the 
mental anguish and helplessness of the besieged commander 
who flashed back the following message. 

" May I bring to your kind notice One, two days after we 
were attacked at Skardu we said we could not hold Skardu and 
that It was easy to withdraw tis enemy had not occupied line of 
withdrawal and plenty transport available Jammu & Kashmir 
force ordered to hold to last man last round Two We are 
holding for more than three months are left with no mortar 


74 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


ammunition and other ammunition practically exhausted With 
that we have to fight back about 80 miles route, all held by 
enemy in well prepared positions and having all supporting 
weapons and plenty ammunition Three, we have eight 
wounded stretcher cases In addition some indoor patients and 
male and female and young all unfit to move No coolies to 
evacuate above Four, two routes open for us to follow one 
through Gol-Parkutta and second via Satpura Both very strongly 
held by enemy m great depth Simply impossible to pass 
through If moved then fifty percent casualties of troops and no 
, less than 80 percent refugees certain Five, not a single coolie 
for ration etc Six, there are no troops at Kargil, Olthing Thang, 
Bagicha Major Coutts etc having reached Leh Troops at Tolti, 
Parkutta, are one strong battalion and have not been able to 
clear opposition and reach here We are hardly two companies 
with any mortar ammunition and cannot fight back such a long 
distance all vital points held by enemy Seven, Troops from 
Srinagar could come much quicker than collection of scattered 
garrisons here and recapture Kargil If SF troops are not 
available lA troops be pushed Suggest and request Alpha 
ammunition be dropped immediately Bravo, more troops be 
pushed from Srinagar to capture Kargil Charlie, troops in Tolti 
area may not be withdrawn Dog, if our withdrawal is 
imperative suggest troops at Tolti, Parkutta be pushed here and 
we all fall back collectively Lastly to avoid disaster of this 
garrison and refugees request you please reconsider your order" 

If Skardu had to withdraw and escape to Kargil, that 
should have been done at least three months earlier when 
Thapa had made a specific request to that effect. Now that a 
lot of more water had gone down the Indus, it was much too 
late to talk of a withdrawal. HQ Sri Division now intervened 
decisively to save the situation, to salvage whatever they 
could The impugned order was indeed reconsidered and 
cancelled. 'Mt was instead decided to stock up Skardu 
Garrison and use Colonel Kripal Singh's troops for the 
recapture of Kargil and orders were issued accordingly. Here 
again it was not appreciated that without porters the 


The Fall of Skardu "All Sikhs 


75 


Battalion would have to shed its heavy equipment, supporting 
weapons and much of its ammunition, and bereft of these 
and without a firm base, it would hardly be in a position to 
recapture Kargil from a well-armed and well-equipped 
enemy Nevertheless, the orders were obeyed and after 
destroying its heavy equipment the 5*’’ and 7 ^*' Battalion 
combine started its trek back to Kargil on the night of 18/19 
May Kripal Singh's column of about 600 men, thus made 
light, marched cross-country towards Marol at the confluence 
of Suru and Indus, bypassing and thus avoiding enemy 
concentrations along the mam track, with a view to recapture 
Kargil from that direction A tall order indeed, if ever there 
any was, and much too late in the day! 

Much as Kripal avoided being ambushed by the enemy. 
Major Jarral was keeping a close tag of Indian movements. 
"By 1400 hours on 1 9 May the column had closed in at 
Kharmang. The village was deserted and there was no sign of 
the enemy being present anywhere around and there being a 
few hours of daylight still left, Colonel Kripal Singh decided to 
push on to Bagicha No sooner had the column prepared to 
move than the whole area became live with enemy fire from 
all sides" resulting in sixty killed and equal number wounded 
The firefight lasted the whole afternoon during which enemy 
reinforcements arrived and the column was completely 
encircled. "Colonel Kripal Singh then sought to take 
advantage of the darkness of the night for sneaking out of the 
cordon by batches. This column was able to concentrate at 
Bagicha by 0300 hours on 20 May Unfortunately, however, 
three platoons lost their way in the night and they never 
turned up at the rendezvous e^t Bagicha." Now that the 
column was badly mauled — having suffered more than 200 
casualties in killed, wounded and missing, as well as shorn of 
its supporting weapons, and to cap it all being without a firm 
base in enemy held territory — Kripal decided to make his 
way in penny pockets over mountain goat-tracks to the safety 
of Drass, which he believed to be still held by own troops. 

This body of 400 men without rations, living on 'sattu', 
crossed Tohunwas on 23'^'* May where they were caught in a 




76 


Milftary Plight of Pakistan 


snow blizzard, and reached Kiniyal the next evening Here 
"the villagers, unaffected by the connmunal virus, were most 
co-operative and willingly sold their 'Sattu' to the troops " 
The column had similar pleasant experience at Matiyan, 
which they reached on the 25“’ Thereafter, the column 
reached Franshot at 8 a m on the 27'“ with the intention of 
crossing river Shingu Finding the bridge destroyed by the 
enemy, they moved onto Gultari to cross the river upstream 
at the other cradle-bridge up there, which they found intact. 
"The column had never been in luck so far and nor was it on 
this day Just when two companies of the 7'“ Battalion and 
about 1 5 men of the 5'“ had crossed over, the bridge gave 
way and the whole structure fell into the river taking with it 
the three men who were in the process of crossing " The 
column thus got split into two halves and each half had to 
adopt a different route for reaching Drass; the companies of 
the 7'“ Battalion via the 14,300 ft Marpo La and those of the 
5'“ with Kripal via the 13,590 ft Karobal Gali. 

The two companies of the 7*“ Battalion reached Drass on 
5*“ June, a couple of days too late Since they were not aware 
of the fate that had met Captain Kashmir Singh and his Drass 
Garrison, they walked straight into the enemy's trap and 
were decimated. A few who managed to escape the enemy 
dragnet, marched over unknown mountain tracks and passes 
and trickled into Srinagar in ones and twos to tell their sad 
story. 

The other column under Kripal Singh also had a hard 
time crossing the hazardous Pass. By the time they crossed 
the Pass on 2"“ June, they had lost 35 men in a blinding 
snowstorm. They reached Badoab on 3'“ June where the 
Muslim inhabitants were very co-operative. They not only 
gave them some rations but also informed them of the enemy 
plan to ambush them at Raman nullah track junction. With 
the help of guides from the village, the enemy position was 
located and in a surprise attack three of the enemy were 
killed. Having traversed a sparsely used footpath along the 
Mashkoh Nullah, and bypassing the track Junction going 



The Fall of Skardu "All Sikhs 


77 


down to Gumri, this column of five officers and 145 ORs 
under Lt Col Kripal Singh came down the mountain range 
and reached the safety of Sonamarg on 7'*’ June 1948 By 
this time the enemy strength in the area was estimated at 
about 500 around Drass and another 300 near Matayan 

Thus ended in a fiasco the tragic story of repeated 
pathetic and futile Indian attempts to relieve the beleaguered 
garrison of Skardu resulting in avoidable heavy loses of 
precious human lives, huge quantities of arms, ammunition 
and military equipment which fell into enemy hands This 
enabled him to overcome his major shortcoming since they 
did not have the benefit of a regular supply and maintenance 
system to back up their operations 

Both Srinagar and Jammu had definite information as 
early as 3"*' March 1948 that an enemy column, about 500 
strong supported by 200 porters was operating in the area 
south of Skardu The question therefore arises why the 
reinforcing columns were allowed to move forward of Kargil 
in small penny pockets, inviting defeat in detail. The force 
should have been ordered to concentrate at Kargil under one 
commander, carry out route reconnaissance, gather 
information about enemy movements, and then move 
forward in a tactically sound military manner, rather than 
marching ahead in tidbits as if going on a route march. "The 
mission failed not because of shortage of manpower or 
paucity of arms, ammunition or equipment. The resources 
were more than adequate. Dispersal of forces, absence of a 
tactical approach, confusion in command and control, 
uninspiring leadership and less than competent handling by 
the Commander of 163 Infantry Brigade, were the factors 
responsible for the misery and calamity which befell this 
force. 

The severe arctic winter conditions and high altitude took 
a heavy toll in all these infructuous attempts at reinforcing 
Skardu which would not have been held in the first place if a 
proper military assessment and overall strategic defence plan 




78 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


had been formulated right in the beginning Gems of 
hindsight? Well, all it really means is that the military brass 
should not have rushed headlong blindly into taking ad hoc 
decision on a day to day basis, press panic buttons without 
proper assessment of the overall situation, and consequences 
thereof 

A serious threat to Srinagar from the North was now 
developing This route had to be plugged as a matter of 
extreme urgency But that is a different story for a later 
chapter. All that is relevant here, in that context, is the 
commendable achievement by a small, well organized, well 
led enemy force of heterogeneous elements adding upto 
approximately two battalions worth of troops, that managed 
to secure a vast stretch of strategic territory in the Northern 
Areas for Pakistan, and thereby for the long term benefit of 
Western imperialist powers. This was all the more so since 
the enemy forces did not enjoy the advantage of air power of 
their country However, they certainly enjoyed a big 
advantage accruing from shorter and easier lines of 
communications, as well as a head start provided by Major 
Brown and the British complicity in the plot m its totality 
Moreover, the hostiles belonged to the soil. They were part of 
the environment and needed no acclimatization whereas 
Indian troops were alien both to the terrain and the climate. 
Besides these military advantages, the enemy also enjoyed 
immense special moral and psychological assets by way of 
religious fanaticism, holy-war slogan, lure of loot and women 
as well as the heady mixture of excitement of combat against 
Hindu-India. The Pakistani commanders fully exploited these 
advantages to the hilt, and made the best use of innate 
mobility of mountain-tribals and their proverbial capability in 
irregular guerrilla warfare. 

The Noose Tightens 

With the capture of Kargil in early May and Drass in early 
June, with the siege around Skardu successfully tightening the 
noose — Pakistan's flag in the vast strategic region of 



The Fall of Skardu "All Sikhs 


79 


Northern Sector from Gilgit to Nubra, and from Karakoram to 
the Zojila and Gurais was flying at its zenith Srinagar was 
threatened from the north, and so was Leh. The hostiles' grip 
on Skardu became firmer than ever before 

It IS indeed unfortunate and somewhat ironic too, that 
the strategic importance of holding Kargil vis-a-vis the 
tactically insignificant outpost of Skardu was not appreciated 
by Indian military command. Kargil was the key to geo- 
political access to Central Asia It had been a key point on 
the ancient trade route over the centuries and continued to 
occupy that position of prime importance It dominated the 
Srinagar Leh route Moreover, Indian claim over Aksaichin 
would have been untenable if Kargil was in hostile hands. 
Without Kargil, Ladakh would not have been in Indian hands, 
at least in so far as the situation in 1947-48 was concerned 
But still the higher military command continued to reinforce 
Skardu, and completely ignored Kargil However, it is difficult 
to reconcile to the idea that the Indian senior commanders 
were so naive as not to be able to place Kargil in the correct 
military perspective. No, that is most unlikely. Our 
commanders and their staffs were sharper in appreciating the 
military value of what should be held, and what should be 
discarded m the face of limited resources 

In the meantime, enemy attacks on Skardu continued 
unabated The siege of the Fort was complete and conditions 
inside were becoming next to impossible. The ration scale 
was down to 1 80 grams of atta and 30 grams of dal with no 
ghee at all.^* 

With Gilgit and Bunji m the north, and Kargil and Drass in 
the south in enemy hands, the noose around Skardu got 
further tightened. However, more than Skardu, the problem 
for India was Leh the loss of which was going to be politically 
most devastating and strategically suicidal. In order to avoid 
such a catastrophe, a plan under code name "Op Snipe" was 
evolved. This projected operation Involved early recapture of 
Gurais; and with that as the firm base, one brigade group to 




80 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


advance over the Burzil Pass, through the Deosai Plains, and 
on to Skardu thereby killing more than two birds with one 
stone. The plan envisaged for the brigade group to be 
maintained by air for at least one week If successful, this 
operation would have eliminated the existing threat to 
Bandipur and hence from the north to Srinagar too, raised 
the siege of Skardu thereby cutting off the enemy's L of C to 
Kargil, Drass and Leh The ultimate aim of securing Leh being 
achieved without having to take the fight to the vicinity of the 
Buddhist monasteries Unfortunately, this bold and 
beautifully conceived operation never saw the light of the 
day, perhaps because of non-availability of additional forces 
during June 1 948 Or did it look too audacious? 

May be, a brigade group level operation from Curais over 
the Burzil Pass to Skardu appeared to be an over ambitious 
hazardous venture at that point of time in the distant past 
Further, air maintenance of a brigade group for one week or 
so may not have been within the then available air-resources 
But how about a battalion group making a rapid advance in 
that direction and be maintained by air for about ten days or 
so, when the enemy was on the run. The trouble is we did 
not exploit our success in Gurais in the direction of Skardu at 
all. Fate had consigned Skardu, and thereby Baltistan to the 
Pakistani fold! 

While the aforesaid attempts at providing succor to the 
beleaguered garrison were ending irt failure one after 
another, the conditions inside the Fort were becoming almost 
unbearable. Although the siege commenced on 12 February, 
the first determined assault by the enemy came only on 25''’ 
March. It was launched against the piquets guarding the Fort 
and the defenders put up a stiff resistance Similarly, the 
defence was vigorous and successful in repulsing the attack 
against Point 8853 and the piquet commander; Captain Ajit 
Singh was awarded VrC for the heroic effort. However, by 
then the garrison was restricted to an area barely about 1 ,500 
X 600 yards and the forward elements of the two sides were 
at eye to. eye contact, at just about 50 yards apart, the 


The Fall of Skardu "All Sikhs 


81 


defenders being at the mercy of those who had been their 
comrades in arms a few weeks earlier Such was the irony of 
fate 


“ALL SIKHS SHOT. ALL WOMEN RAPED” 

On 2"^* June, close air support by Tempest aircraft of 
Indian Air Force (then RIAF) succeeded in marginally 
improving the morale of the besieged garrison Air supply by 
fighter aircraft was also resorted to, but this did not prove to 
be a viable solution because, besides being much too 
expensive in terms of men and money, the level of casualties 
in retrieving the supplies in the face of enemy was 
unacceptable. And in the process, the enemy also stood to 
gam from the supplies lost in the drop. It was indeed a 
piquant cleft-stick situation. 

Relief from the skies was a mere short-term respite from 
the menacing hordes just a few yards away from the outer 
perimeter defences. When the two warring groups are in eye 
to eye contact, that had to be so. And the final psychological 
blow was dealt by the enemy on IZ'** June when Sepoy Amar 
Nath who had been taken prisoner at Parkutta, approached 
the garrison holding a white flag with the following message 
from the enemy commander. Colonel Shahzada Mata-ul- 
Mulk, "Commander, Azad Central Forces Skardu":- 

To. The Officers and Men of Kashmir State Forces, 
Skardu Crn. 

From. Colonel Shahzada Mata-UI-Mulk, Comd Azad 
Chitral Forces, and Skardu. 

One (.) All attempts to relieve your Crn by Brigadier Faqir Singh, 
Lt Cols Kripal Singh and Sampuran Bachan Singh have resulted 
in absolute failure in numerous killed and prisoners taken Azad 
Forces are now operating in Kangan, Sonamarg and Bandipur 
area also in some cases within 15 miles of Srmagar( ) Two( ) You 
have done your duty as every soldier should do Now that it is 
clear that no relief can reach you in this mountainous area there 




82 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


IS no doubt about the ultimate fate of your garrison and I am 
quite determined about it It is no use to carry on a struggle, 
which will result in ' our total annihilation ( ) Three( ) I therefore 
advise you to lay c own arms and I take full responsibility to give 
protection to one and all You must believe me and trust me, as 
I am not only a soldier but also possess royal blood I have given 
instructions to my officers and men that any one approaching 
with a white will not be fired at but taken into safe custody ( ) 
Four( ) Lastly as a proof of my goodwill I wish to inform you that 
not a single Sikh or Hindu resident of Chitral has been hurt and 
not a single non-Muslim property looted or damaged and until 
now they carry on their business as if nothing at all had 
happened I therefore advise you again to lay down arms and 
thus save your lives An officer should accompany back the 
white flag if you consider my word sincere and honest ( ) 

It goes to the credit of the enemy commander that it was 
a well reasoned, well meaning communication in which he 
advanced compelling rationale why the garrison should 
surrender Of course. Colonel Thapa did not respond to this 
offer which was therefore deemed to have been rejected 
While Leh had been made reasonably safe, the situation at 
Skardu had become all the more critical after failure of Kripal 
Singh's column and unsuccessful attempts to maintain the 
garrison by air By the middle of June there was never any 
doubt that the fate of this brave Garrison was doomed, 
notwithstanding the strafing of Point 8853 by two Tempests 
on 19* June inflicting casualties on the enemy The fighting 
albeit one sided, continued unabated day after day with the 
ultimate result staring the defenders in their mind's eye 
While the intensity and ferocity of enemy action increased 
day after day, the ability of the garrison to resist "diminished 
in a somewhat inverse proportion 

The situation had taken a turn for, the worse during the 
first week of August when the enemy brought forward two 
3 7" Howitzer to decide the issue once and for all At that 
time besides the acute shortage of ammunition that the 


The Fall of Skardu "All Sikhs 


83 


Garrison was faced with, the vitality of the men had reached 
Its lowest ebb due to prolonged under-nourishment 
bordering on starvation. While the number of sick persons 
was increasing, there were practically no medicines at all 
"After a continuous barrage of SOS requests for dropping 
medicines, an air drop took place What fell within our 
defences had only 12 phials of penicillin that too were date 
expired What a pity>"^^ nevertheless, with a superhuman 
effort the Garrison beat back the enemy attack on 1 2 August 
even though it was the heaviest attack that he had made so 
far " By then, " with not more than ten rounds of ammunition 
remaining with each man, the successful defence on 12 
August also marked the end of the ability of the Garrison to 
resist any further and with the men on the verge of complete 
starvation and with nothing to fight with, it was left with no 
alternative but to surrender" 

The finale came on the 14''’ of August 1948 when the rest 
of India was preparing to celebrate the first anniversary of 
their Independence It was great heartening news for Pakistan 
on their National Day when, with all resources exhausted, 
the beleaguered Indian garrison raised a white flag at 8 am 
atop the Fort giving rise to cheers and jubilation amongst the 
enemy troops 

Frightful revenge was inflicted on the defenders of 
Skardu Mass murders and rapes were galore. Many women 
committed suicide. All Sikhs were put to sword. Captain 
Ganga Singh, Adjutant of 6 JAK "was tied, laid on the ground 
and shot", by his erstwhile comrades-in-arms for his "crime" 
that he was a non-Muslim "The only Sikh who escaped was 
Kalyan Singh who was my Orderly and was staying with me." 
It was outright murder of innocent people, a massacre on a 
horrendous scale of which the Indian and international press 
hardly took any notice. Lieutenant Colonel Sher Jung Thapa, 
Captains Prabhat Singh and Ajit Singh and other survivors of 
this holocaust were taken prisoners. Luckily, they were not 
killed, not because of any act of mercy on the part of the 
enemy forces, but all because of General Gracey who issued 




84 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Strict "orders to stop any further killing of prisoners of war" 
They were sent to Attock Fort in Pakistan It was there that 
Thapa met General Douglas Gracey after a lapse of almost 25 
years and came to know how his old benefactor Gracey had 
saved his life, and lives of many others "After General 
Gracey 's visit, the attitude of Pakistani captors changed and 
we were treated very well they were repatriated to India 
in May 1 950. 

The Gorkha officer of the Jammu and Kashmir State 
Forces, Colonel Sher Jung Thapa was awarded MVC for the 
heroic defence he and his men had put up in the face of 
grave personal danger in an entirely unequal fight 

In the ultimate analysis, the British officers, particularly 
Major William Brown OBE, Commandant Gilgit Scouts, and 
Muslim officers and men of 6 JAK Infantry Battalion, must be 
held responsible for the inhuman atrocities perpetrated on 
the hapless women and children as well as the defenders of 
Skardu, in as much as they were responsible for the massacre 
at Gilgit and later at Bunj'i, Tsari and finally at Skardu in 
flagrant violation of Geneva Convention and ordinary human 
decency. In any case, Pak Army has never considered itself 
constrained by such refinements of humane behaviour 

Skardu fell as a result of lack of appropriate strategic 
appreciation by the Indian political leadership, "hamhanded 
relief operations" and inability of the Air Force to provide 
requisite support.^® 

At this stage, Kashmir Valley was open to Pakistani attacks 
both from the North as well as the East, and to cap it all, the 
lines of communication between Srinagar and Leh over the 
Zojila Pass had also been disrupted after the fall of Kargil. The 
situation at Skardu had been impossible right from the start 
after Gilgit and then Bunj'i fell into enemy hands. Skardu was 
reinforced again and again and yet again at the expense of 
Kargil whose strategic importance in the overall context of 
defence of the trans-Himalayan region was not appreciated, 
or effected for that matter. 


The Fall of Skardu "All Sikhs 


85 


In retrospect, the course of action that should have been 
adopted appears quite simple and straightforward — Hold 
Kargil in strength, with that as the firm base, launch 
operations down the Indus Valley, relieve the siege of Skardu, 
and then advance to Bunj i-Gilgit, subject to available 
resources. 

Pakistani capture of Skardu in Baltistan in August 1948 
after about six months of a grueling siege provided the enemy 
with a forward base up on the Indus for their subsequent 
operations in this theatre. However, Pak advance was 
eventually checked resulting m the State of Jammu and 
Kashmir being virtually cut into two portions 


NOTES AND REFERENCES 

1 . Sher Jung Thapa was born at Abbottabad, now in Pakistan, on 
18 June 1908, son of Honorary Capt Arjan Singh Thapa, Sardar 
Bahadur, Order of British India (OBI), Indian Distinguished Service 
Medal (IDSM), Subedar Major of 2/5 Royal Gorkha Rifles He had 
his college education at Dharmsala Captain Douglas Gracey, Adju- 
tant of 1 Gorkha Rifles Training Centre at Dharmasala encouraged 
Thapa to Join Jammu and Kashmir State Forces in which he was 
commissioned on 1 September 1932 — Chibber M L , Lieutenant 
General, "Pakistan's Criminal Folly in Kashmir", Manas Publica- 
tions, New Delhi 

1998, p 100 

2 The Skardu Fort is situated on a hill overlooking the town of 
Skardu Originally it was the headquarters of the Rajas of Skardu 
When this hill tract was conquered by Wazir Zorawar Singh the 
Fort Itself defied all efforts of the Dogras to capture it because of 
Its naturally very strong location and it was only treachery on the 
part of Its defenders that betrayed it into Dogra hands The Fort 
was then razed to the ground. Reconstruction of the present fort 
was commenced in 1857 under orders of Maharaja Ranbir Singh 
and under the supervision of Mehta Mangal and completed in 



86 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


1884 The River Indus runs round the three sides of the hill on 
which the fort stands On the eastern side of the fort a pompously 
worded inscription in Persian in eulogy of the Maharaja, his Prime 
Minister Diwan Anant Ram and another minister Shiv Saran is to 
be found engraved on a stone In 1937, the Fort had a garrison of 
ten Fort Guards — Brahma Singh K Major, "History of Jammu & 
Kashmir Rifles 1820-1956", Lancer International, New Delhi, 
1990, p.297 

3 A radio intercept quoted by Major K Brahma Singh on page 268 
of his Book, "History of Jammu & Kashmir Rifles" op cit , and also 
recorded in his Book by Lieutenant General S K Sinha, "Opera- 
tion Rescu'' Military Operations in Jammu and Kashmir 1947-49", 
Vision Books, New Delhi 1977/1997; p 85 

4 The undivided Indian Army had three tier basic ranks structure 
— Officers, VCOs (Viceroy's Commissioned Officers) and OR 
(Other Ranks) which also included the NCOs ( Non-Commissioned 
Officers) The VCOs were ranked as Jemadar (now Naib Subedar), 
Subedar and Subedar Major. The VCOs are now called JCOs The 
same system of ranks prevailed in the State Forces too 

5 Lieutenant Colonel Thapa quoted by Chibber; Op cit. p.1 10 

6 Sen L.P. Lieutenant General, "Slender was The Thread", 
Longman, New Delhi, 1969, p 192 

7. Brahma Singh K. Major,op cit pp 258-59 

8 Thapa, Sher Jung, op cit pp 1 1 2-1 3. 

9. Brahma Singh, op. cit p 259. 

lO.lbid, p 261 

11. Ibid, p 261 

12 Ibid, p 261 

1 3. Thapa Sher Jung,op cit. pp.1 1 5-1 8 

1 4. Sen L P op cit pi 94 

15. Thapa Sher Jung, ibid; pp 122-23 


The Fall of Skardu "All Sikhs 


87 


1 6 Brahma Singh, op cit p 263 

17 Prasad S N Dr and Dharm Pal Dr, "History of Operations in 
Jammu and Kashmir — 1947- 48", History Division, Ministry of 
Defence, India, 1 987, p 291 , also Thapa Sher Jung op cit p 1 25 

18 "There is also evidence available that Maj Coutts did not have 
the inclination to fight" — Bloeria Sudhir S Dr, "The Battles of 
Zojila",Har Anand Publications, New Delhi, 1997, p 6 

1 9 Thapa Sher Jung, op cit p 129 

20 Prasad S N and Dharm Pal, op cit p 298 

21 Palit D K Major General, "Jammu & Kashmir Arms — History 
of the J& K Rifles", Palit and Dutt Publishers, Dehradun, 1972 , 
pp 240-41 

22 Brahma Singh, op cit pp 261-267 

23 Bloeria Sudhir S Dr op cit, p 70 

24 Thapa cit pp 118-19 

25 Prasad S N and Dharm Pal, op cit pp 349/367 

26 Thapa Sher Jung, op cit 137-39 

27 Ibid p 141 

28 Ibid pp 141-43 

29 Madan Vijay Lieutenant General, Jammu and Kashmir Opera- 
tions 1947-48, The Other Vision, USI Journal New Delhi July-Sep- 
tember 1992, p 314 





3 


POLITICAL 

DEVELOPyVIEMTS: 

PRE-IISIDEPENIDENCE 


"Jewel of the North, Kashmir nestles in the bosom of the 
Himalayas. The State of Jammu and Kashmir consists of 
Jammu, the masculine land of Dogra chivalry, which forms 
part of the outer hills of the Himalaya, the Kashmir Valley 
with its feminine charms of cascades, flower gardens and 
placid lakes, and Ladakh, the rugged land of the Lamas and 
monasteries which forms about 70% of the total area of the 
State."’’ 

Most of the State is mountainous except for a small 
stretch along the Punj'ab border in the southwest corner. The 
valleys are wide, fertile and well populated. The great 
mountain ranges in the north link the Pamirs and Hindukush 
Mountains in the west, and- with the Himalayas in the east. 
The Pir Panjal Range running In the southeastern corner of 
the State separates the Kashmir valley from the Jammu and 
Poonch regions. This range is much lower than the Himalayas 
and the Great Karakoram. Its crest line lies at an average of 
12,500 ft while individual peaks are around 15,000 ft AMSL. 
The Himalayas and the Karakoram have some of the highest 
peaks in the world, like the Mount Everest at 29,028 ft and 
Mount Godwin Austen (K2) at 28,250 ft, the second highest 
peak in the world lying In the Baltistan visible while flying to 
Leh, an awe inspiring beautiful sight. 




90 


Military Phght of Pakistan 


There is a narrow strip, a 'sliver' of Afghan territory lying 
between the Hindu Kush Range in the south and the Pamir 
Mountains m the north in Tajikistan. The western part of this 
strip borders Pakistan while the eastern part abuts the old 
Jammu and Kashmir State border It is India's only window to 
the erstwhile USSR whose Central Asian Republics are its 
close neighbours The erstwhile Soviet province of 
Badakhshan is only a short distance to the north. On the 
southwest and south, it is contiguous with Himachal Pradesh 
and Punjab There are a large number of mountain passes, 
the most important of which are Zoji La 11,578, Banihal 
9,290 and Haji Pir 8,652 ft 

There are four mam rivers, which have a direct bearing 
on military operations. - 

* River Indus with its source in Tibet flows from east to 
west cutting right across the state in a great arc through 
Skardu-Bunji and flows through Attock in West Punjab to the 
Sindh province of Pakistan 

*' River Kishenganga (Neelam, in Pakistan) starting 
from North of Sonamarg cuts through Tithwal valley and flows 
into river Jhelum at Domel. 

* River Jhelum starting from Wular Lake flows east to 
west through the Valley at Baramula to Domel - Mirpur - 
Mangla and Jhelum in Pakistan. 

* River Chenab with its source near Kulu in the Lahaul 
region of Himachal Pradesh flows through Kishtwar-Ramban- 
Akhnur m the Jammu region, and thence into the plains of 
Pakistani-Punjab. 

Two other rivers of special interest in this particular area 
are: - 

* River Mahl passing through Bagh, Mong Bajri and 
flowing into river Jhelum. 

* River Poonch passing through Poonch, Kotli and 
flowing into Mangla reservoir near Mirpur m Punjab- 


Political Developments Pre-Independence 


91 


In 1947, the State covering a total area of 85,805 sq miles 
(2,22,236 sq km) between 32° 1 7<I: and 36°58<: north and 
73° 26(1: and 80° 30(1: east, was the largest of all the princely 
states with a population of about forty lakhs It was divideid 
into the following regions - 

Kashmir Division: The Kashmir Valley lies between the 
Pir Panjal and the Central Himalayas at an average elevation 
of 5,300 ft AMSL, with an average rainfall of only 30". The 
Valley and Muzzaffarabad district together occupy an area 
6,156 sq miles (15,945 sq km) Nestling between the inner 
and the outer Himalayas, and drained by the rivers Jhelum 
and Kishenganga, the Kashmir Valley lies in a south-east to 
north-westerly direction, about 80 miles long and 31 miles 
wide The Valley is dotted with numerous lakes of which the 
Wular, Dal and Nagin are the most famous. River Jhelum 
enters Wular Lake at Bandipur and leaves it at Sopore. Rivers 
Lidder, Sind, Sandran and Vishwa are the major tributaries of 
river Jhelum 

Jammu Division contiguous with undivided Punjab 
(along Mirpur, Kotli and Poonch) and Himachal Pradesh has 
an area of 10,152 sq miles (26,293 sq km). 

Ladakh and Baltistan has Leh and Skardu as the main 
centres of population Ladakh, a high altitude desert at an 
average elevation of 17,000 ft, area 36,930 sq miles (96,701 
sq km) The average temperature at Leh during summer is 8° 
C (in August) and in winter it is minus 16° C The Buddhists 
constitute about 51% of the population while the Muslims are 
46%. Ladakhi Muslims are distinct from Kashmiri Shia 
Muslims but are akin to Muslims of Baltistan who are known 
as Twelver Shias 

Gilgit Agency under lease to the British, and the Gilgit 
Wazrat. 

Frontier Illaqas 

Thus, geographically, the State is comprised of four 
completely diverse regions ranging from a cold snow desert 
and bleak barren mountains devoid of any vegetation to lush 



92 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


green valleys, and low level hot plains This geographical 
diversity naturally led to considerable cultural variations and 
disparities m economic development, which may appear lop 
sided at first sight No wonder then that Lord Birdwood had 
to say, " the delimitation of a line on the map of Central 
Asia on political considerations enclosed a completely 
artificial area, a geographical monstrosity, which then 
assumed the name of the Jhelum Valley, Kashmir"^ 

As on January 1949 when the Cease Fire came into 
force, India controlled 57,000 sq miles of the State territory 
out of which 12,000 sq miles was later seized by China, 
while Pakistan controlled 32,200 sq miles Out of this, 
Pakistan constituted 27,000 sq miles to form the Northern 
Areas comprised of Gilgit, Astor, Skardu, Hunza and others 
under direct Islamabad control, some of which was later 
ceded to China, and 5,236 sq miles was placed under the 
Azad Kashmir Government ^ 

The population of the State: The 1941 census records 
total populations of 40,21,616 out of which Muslims were 
31,01,247. Thus Muslims constituted about 77% Muslims 
while 20% were Hindus, and the rest Sikhs, Buddhists, and 
others About 35 lakhs lived in villages. Kashmiri Pandits 
dominated the civil services and business Doigras dominated 
the army and police About 30% of the rank and file in the 
State Forces were drawn from Muslim Ra)puts tribes of 
western Poonch and there were about 60,000 ex-servicemen 
in the region that had served in the British Indian Army 
during the Second World War. 

COMMUNICATIONS 

In order to appreciate the military operations in their 
correct perspective, as also the political and social 
developments in the State, it is necessary that we have a clear 
picture of surface communications as they existed at the time 
of Indian Independence. 



Political Developments Pre-Independence 


93 


The Dogra rule came to the State through kind courtesy, 
first the Sikh Darbar at Lahore and then of the British Since 
Lahore was the socio-political centre of both these powers, it 
was a simple matter of developmental evolution that the 
communication net-work should have its hub at Lahore, and 
by the same token, its base at Rawalpindi. Moreover, by the 
time the Dogra Dynasty established itself, British Empire was 
fast progressing towards its zenith in the Indian sub- 
continent The Dogras were politically subservient to the 
British Government Above all, the nature of the terrain — 
the major geo-physical factor that dictates the basic technical 
considerations for development of surface communications 
— pointed to the Punjab plains as the starting point of road 
and rail net-work leading into the State of Jammu and 
Kashmir. No wonder therefore that in the old Moghul days, 
their elephant caravans for the royal summer vacations went 
through the Punjab plains via the Tosamaidan and Pir Panjal. 
The same holds good for the old trade routes to Western Asia 
via the Zoji La pass and Ladakh, and to old Gandhara (Kabul 
valley) through the Jhelum valley in the general area of 
Muzaffarabad 

It will thus be seen that geo-political considerations alone 
dictated the trend of development of surface 
communications into the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and 
the same trend was to continue in the days to come 

River Jhelum flows in a northwesterly direction down the 
Uri gorge and takes a sudden 300 degrees swing whence it 
flows southwards, towards Punjab marking the State 
boundary Two metalled roads connected the State with the 
rest of undivided India and both branched off from the main 
Delhi-Lahore-Peshawar Grand Trunk Road, and converged at 
Domel on the State border One. Rawalpindi-Wahe- 
Abbottabad-Manshera-Garhi Habibullah-Domel and up the 
Jhelum valley along the south bank to Srinagar The other, 
from Rawalpindi rising up the Murree Hills, then dropping 
down to Kohala, over the bridge to Barsala and thence 
parallel to the Jhelum river on the east bank onto Domel- 




94 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Srinagar The scenic drive from Domel along the river Jhelum 
went via Chinan, Chakhoti, Uri, Mahura on to Baramula, 
whence the black tarmac ribbon lined with tall chinai trees 
went through the Valley Beautiful right upto Srinagar 

The southern tarmac road access into the State was fiom 
Wazirabad on the mam. Grand Trunk Road to Sialkot- 
Suchetgarh border post and onward to Jammu A forward 
road for 79 miles connected Mirpi r-Kotli-Poonch, and 
another one of 36 miles linked Poonch with Uri in the Jhelum 
valley over the Haji Pir Pass Another fair weather road 
connected Jammu-Akhnur-Naushera-Jhangar 

It will thus be seen that the only viable lines of 
communications to the State were through what later came 
to be Pakistan, and still later partly as Pakistan Occupied 
Kashmir (POK) territories, thereby conferring a distinct 
strategic advantage on Pakistan in its attempt at forcible 
annexation of the State The road network connecting West 
Punjab with the State was not only good but was also much 
shorter, thereby conferring a definite military advantage of 
shorter lines of communication to Pakistan 

With what was later to become independent India, the 
only surface link was a "Tonga Road", a purely fair weather 
dirt track, motorable of sorts, from Pathankot via Madhopur- 
Kathua-Samba-Jammu, a distance of about 64 miles. There 
were a number of unbridged rivers and causeways, which 
became unfordable with the slightest of showers and turned 
into mud ruts Ravi, Ujh and Basantar were the maj'or 
unbridged river obstacles of which the Ravi was the most 
formidable A motor ferry used to operate over the Ravi 
during the non-monsoon season, but barely for three months 
in a year. A round trip from Pathankot to Jammu and back 
over this dusty dirt track used to take about three grueling 
days. 

From Jammu., a forward fair weather road to Srinagar via 
Udhampur, Ramban where >t crossed river Chenab over a 
rickety suspension bridge, thence over tlae Pir Bahjal range Wit 



Political Developments Pre-Independence 


95 


the 9,290 ft high Banihal Pass (The present tunnel was 
constructed in 1955) and passing through Anantnag went 
upto the capital Srinagar situated at a comfortable 5,200 ft 
This road was snow bound during the winter months and had 
very little utility as a motorable road because of its poor 
general condition and numerous natural obstacles enroute 
Except for light vehicles, this road was used more as a route 
for the mules/ponies caravans 

The Partition of India in 1947 left all the three metalled 
roads in the territory of Pakistan, and since these were the 
lifelines of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the control over 
the supplies of essential goods and commodities rested 
entirely in Pakistan hands And as we shall see later, this lever 
was applied by Pakistan to throttle life in the State to coerce 
Maharaja Han Singh to accede to Pakistan, by hook or crook, 
through what came to be known as the Economic Blockade 

All other roads in the State were fair weather, mostly 
shingle-surface, narrow winding barely allowing single way 
traffic. The following shingle roads in Jammu region had a 
bearing on the conduct of military operations. - 

* Jammu-Akhnur-Beri Pattan- Naushera- Jhangar- Kotli- 
Poonch-over the Haji Pir Pass to Uri in the Jhelum valley 

* Naushera- Rajauri- Mendhar- Poonch. 

* Naushera-Jhangar-Mirpur. 

* Jammu- Akhnur-Manawar- Bhimber-Mirpur on to 
Kotli-Poonch 

* Gujrat in Pakistan to Bhimber. 

0 Rawalpindi to Kahuta in Pakistan- Palandri- Poonch 
motorable upto Kahuta only 


A small branch line of 27 miles broad guage railway built 
in 1890 connected Sialkot and the rest of the Punjab plains 
with Jammu. About 18 miles of this rail line was in Pakistani 
Punjab, and only 9 miles is in the State territory. 




96 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


As for the air services and airfields none at all except 
fair weather landing strips at Satwari near Jammu and at 
Damodar Karewa near Srinagar (Badgom), both runways were 
un-metalled No concrete runways at all And these two 
airstrips were meant primarily for the personal aircraft of the 
Maharaja There were no support services whatsoever — no 
navigational aids, fueling facilities, not even fire tenders 

POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS 

It may come as a pleasant surprise to most Indians, 
Hindus in particular, that "Kashmir, originally called Kasmira, 
can boast of a recorded history going further back than the 
Mahabharata It is the history of evolution of a people 
isolated by geography in a narrow valley that became reputed 
for Its natural beauty throughout the world Its great rulers 
patronized scholars and poets, painters, singers, craftsmen 
built monumental temples, laid out cities and terraced 
gardens extended their domain deep into India, 
Afghanistan and Tibet" * Kashmir has been a centre of 
civilization for a very long time and has experienced a truly 
" epic history, having been a cultural centre of intellectual 
and spiritual adventure and the object of considerable envy 
one after the other 

Over the centuries, the biggest problem faced by the 
Kashmiris was 'how to keep the outsiders out of the Valley 
Beautiful' which has attracted repeated incursions by the 
most rapacious neighbours And howsoever hard they have 
tried, outsiders have always had an upper hand in guiding the 
destinies of these otherwise 'timid and docile' (?) people who 
seem to have undergone a metamorphosis after the agitations 
of the1930's for their democratic rights and economic 
development 

The entire garnwt of political, social, cultural and 
commimal deveiopmapts in the Valley during the recent 
history of the State have been central to two outstanding 
personalities who guided tts destintes thfough thick and thtn 


Political Developments Pre-Independence 


97 


VIZ , Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah and Maharaja Sir Han 
Singh 

Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah 

The Sheikh was born in 1905 at Sorah near Srinagar in 
the family of a poor pashmina dealer. The family was 
originally Kashmiri Brahmins who had converted to Islam in 
the 1 8^*’ century Abdullah's father died- two weeks before his 
birth His widowed mother and uncle who was also in the 
shawl trade brought him up His early education was^-in a 
Muslim Maktab and his ambition was to become a doctor He 
passed his intermediate science examination from Sri Pratap 
College, Srinagar and entered Punjab University, Lahore for 
graduation. In 1928 he joined Aligarh Muslim University, "the 
intellectual centre of Muslim aspirations" founded by Sir Syed 
Ahmed Khan, and got his MSc In chemistry in 1930 — the 
first Kashmiri Muslim to obtain a Masters in Science. 

On return from Aligarh, Abdullah took up job as a 
government teacher at Rs 60/- per month and applied for a 
gazzetted job in the State Civil Service Although apparently 
well qualified for the job, the State Civil Service Recruitment 
Board did not accept him He resigned his teacher's job in 
protest And that was the starting point of explosive anger 
and deep resentment tinged with animosity against the rule 
of discrimination by the ruling minority against the 
preponderous majority, more so since Abdullah considered 
himself more qualified for the job than the many that had 
been selected It is believed that none of the Muslim 
candidates was offered the coveted gazzetted appointment 
from that batch of candidates, and hence the redoubled 
resentment. It is one of those great "ifs" of history — if only 
Sheikh Abdullah had been accepted in the State Civil Service 
... may be, perhaps, if only the entire subsequent history 
of the State would have been different! 

Be that as it may, the fire in a fiery personality had been 
kindled. The rejection was just the right spark to ignite the 
flame for a batrte of lifetime to emancipate the community 




98 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


from the ruler's tyranny — perceived or real was not the 
point at issue His first semi-political initiative was to set up 
the Fateh Kadal Reading Room in Srinagar, which soon 
became the focal point 'or meetings of like-minded Muslims 
Since It was a mere rea» mg room, at least in designation, the 
administration could i ot act against these get-togethers even 
though assembly of such persons was otherwise prohibited 
Soon the Valley had what was unofficially the "Reading Room 
Party" at whose meetings fiery speeches exposing the 
prevailing injustices being inflicted on the hapless citizens 
was the order of the day Being well-built and 6 ft 4 in tall, he 
literally towered above his people in such meetings 

Although Abdullah was a devout orthodox Muslim, at 
heart he was a staunch Kashmiri too, more secular in outlook 
than communal Mirwaiz Mohammed Yusuf Shah took a 
liking for this young educated hotheaded man, and the two 
made a good team for agitations against the Dogra regime 

One of the factors leading to Abdullah's secularism in his 
early life was his marriage to Akbar Jehan in October 1933 
She was the daughter of Harry Neidou, the eldest son of the 
European proprietor of Neidou Hotels chain of which 
Srinagar's Hotel Neidou was part of Harry had married a 
Gujjar girl and converted to Islam This marriage naturally 
conferred none too considerable financial advantage on 
Abdullah who thus achieved a fair degree of economic clout, 
an essential pre-requisite for success in politics In spite of 
her mixed parentage and earlier married life in cosmopolitan 
Bombay, Akbar Jehan was a devout Muslim but secular in 
outlook, so much so that m her later life she not only took 
active part m her husband's political work but also recited 
Quran dunng one of Gandbiji's prayer meetings By the same 
token. It IS doubtsful if she would have felt comfortable in the 
stifling Muslim orthodoxy represeiHed by Mohammed Yusuf 
Shah Hence a streak of secularism and nationalism early in 
the life of Sheikh Abdullah 

Sheikh Abdullah first met Pandii lawabaKls!! Nehru m 
1 938 and accompanied him on a tour of Northwest Frontier 


Political Developments Pre-Independence 


99 


Province where he came m contact with Abdul Ghafar Khan, 
the Frontier Gandhi His subsequent involvement with 
Congress politics and contacts with various leaders of the 
Indian independence movement including Kashmiri leaders 
like Prem Nath Bazaz, another staunch opponent of 
Maharaja's autocracy, strengthened his secular all India 
nationalistic approach to State politics. This was more so 
when the Congress politics were extended to Princely States 
at the time of out break of the Second World War Thus it 
was that young Abdullah clamoured for communal amity, 
religious tolerance, and for transfer of power to the people 

Sheikh Abdullah's emphasis on socialistic approach to 
economic development, social justice and land reforms was 
obviously the outcome of Nehru's influence and Congress's 
secular political philosophy. While Mr. Mohammed All Jmnah 
turned about from secular politics to communal, Abdullah 
moved from communal to the secular front However, it must 
not be forgotten that Islamic component of Kashmiri politics 
was, as always, a key factor in future developments of 
relations between Jammu and Kashmir on one hand and the 
rest of India on the other 

Another important feature of Sheikh Abdullah's political 
character, which had a profound influence on development 
of political equations in the sub-continent, was his innate 
ability to modulate his views to suit the occasion, the 
circumstances as they unfolded. He was a clever, intelligent 
man who easily read other people's character and their 
weaknesses. No wonder therefore that when Abdullah was in 
the company of congressmen, particularly Nehru and 
Maulana Azad, he talked the language of secularism, 
nationalism and of close association with India. When he was 
in the company of personalities of the western world, he 
dreamt and talked of an Independent Kashmir, a sort of 
Switzerland of the East. However, in his usual back home 
environment of Kashmiri politics, he conveyed the impression 
of a devout Muslim besides being a staunch Kashmiri 
nationalist who would accept nothing short of full 
indeoendence for his State. 




100 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Around 1 944 Sheikh Abdullah held a view visualizing the 
Valley as an Asian Switzerland, or an independent Kashmir, 
may be a semi-autonomous dependency, perhaps in alliance 
with India He had a secret meeting with the US Ambassador 
to India, Loy Henderson who reported after his secret visit to 
Kashmir in 1950 " in discussing the future of Kashmir 

Abdullah was vigorous in restating his opinion that it should 
be independent, that an overwhelming majority of 
population desired this independence, that he had reason to 
believe that some Azad Kashmir leaders desired 
independence and would be willing to cooperate with the 
leaders of National Conference if there was reasonable 
chance such cooperation would result in independence 

All said and done, his primary loyalty was to Kashmir, 
with complete exclusion of other regions, which were only 
peripheral to his vision of a great Kashmir His resentment 
against Dogra dynasty was deep rooted, again with complete 
exclusion of any other compromise solution On the contrary, 
for Pandit Nehru national interest was supreme, it came first 
always and every time notwithstanding his love for his roots 
in Kashmir This divergence of perspective was the primary 
cause of clash of personalities and consequent frequent strain 
m relationship between these two giants on the Kashmiri 
scene, which later on was to have a profound effect on the 
socio-political developments m the entire sub-continent 

Maharaja Sir Hari Singh 

Han Singh was born in 1 895 and was the son of Raja 
Amar Singh of Jammu The Raja died in 1909 leaving the 
future Raja hari Singh at the tender age of fourteen The 
British Indian Government, who took a keen interest in the 
education and upbringing of the future Maharaja, appointed 
Major H K Barr as his guardian He entered Mayo College, 
Ajmer in 1908 where English teachers supervised his 
education After completing his course of studies at Ajmer, 
Han Singh received military training in the Imperial Cadet 
Corps at Dehradun In 1915, Maharaja Pratap Singh 


Political Developments Pre-Independence 


101 


appointed him as Commander-in-Chief of the State Forces m 
which capacity he was responsible for training and equipping 
of the State Forces units, which were loaned to the Imperial 
Government for duties during the First World War Later m 
1922, he was appointed as Senior Member of the State 
Council, formed to assist Maharaja Pratap Singh in 
administration of the State It will thus be seen that Flan 
Singh got good grounding in civil and military spheres to 
prepare him for his future role as the Maharaja. 

Maharaja Pratap Singh died in 1925 without a male heir. 
His nephew, Han Singh ascended to the Gaddi and formal 
Raj-tilak ceremony was held at Jammu in March 1926. The 
beginning of his reign as Maharaja was embroiled in scandal, 
and controversy. As reported by Leonard Mosley in The Last 
Days of British Raj, "The Maharaja of Kashmir was so rich 
that he bought hundreds of concubines and dancing girls at 
20-25,000 pounds sterling apiece and once paid 150,000 
pounds (in black mail) for one hour with a female crook in a 
London hotel bedroom " That unfortunate episode apart, the 
young Maharaja had a reputation for secularism, equality and 
justice for all his subjects, Hindus and Muslims alike Taxes, 
customs and excise duties were reduced to reasonable levels, 
irrigation facilities were extended, hydro-electric plants were 
installed at Mahura and Jammu, and general administration 
was given a boost. During his early reign, he promulgated the 
Agricultural Relief Regulation, Compulsory Primary Education 
Act, Prevention of Infants' Marriage Act, etc Besides such 
progressive legislative measures, the young Maharaja also 
decreed the definition of 'State Subject' and issued directive 
for their exclusive appointment in government jobs which 
measure, unfortunately, benefited only the Dogras, Rajputs 
and the Pandits to the disadvantage of the Muslim majority 
population. Though all these legislative and administrative 
measures were of considerable social and cultural 
significance, the day to day administration continued to 
remain moribund. Discrimination against the Muslims 
continued to be the order of the day, leading to Sir Albion 
Banerji's resignation. 



702 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Another positive streak in the young Maharaja's character 
came to light when, in his mid-30/s, while attending the 
Round Table Conference in London, in 1930, he is reported 
to have remarked, "As Indians and loyal to the land whence 
we derive our birth and infant nurture, we stand as solidly as 
the rest of our countrymen for land's enjoyment of a position 
of honour and equality in the British commonwealth of 
Nations This was more than enough incitement in the 
1930's for the British and Anglo-Indian press in Northern 
India, particularly in Punjab and U P, to go out of their way 
to foment agitations and communal propaganda against the 
Maharaja so as to limit his aspirations in, and control over the 
State It IS therefore all the more paradoxical that the same 
Maharaja behaved in an entirely different manner at the time 
of Indian Independence when the question of his accession 
to a Dominion awaited his decision for more than three 
months resulting in complete destabilization of the socio- 
political and military situation in the entire sub-continent 
May be, by then he was a mature middle aged man aspiring 
to become a sovereign ruler of an independent "Switzerland 
of the East", enjoying direct personal and diplomatic relations 
with the Russians, Chinese, Tibetans, and Afghan 
governments amongst others King size dreams no bounds 
And this perhaps was the only point on which the Maharaja 
and the Sheikh were in agreement with each other, albeit for 
entirely different personal reasons 

General Situation in the 30's 

The rural populace bore a serious grudge against the 
government machinery for the nefarious practice of begaar 
whereby the villagers were called upon to do porter duties 
for the government without compensation High rates of land 
revenue, feudal system of land-holdings, excessive taxation in 
trade and industry tike 85% 'ad valorem' duty levied on 
textile industry, exclusion of majority Muslim community 
from army and government service, et al, added to the 
general discontent and resentnnent Poverty, unfemolovment 
and mal-ad ministration were the order of the day So was the 


Political Developments Pre-Independence 


103 


complete absence of a press, or any other vehicle for 
expression of public opinion, which was an anathema to the 
Ruler(s) over the past many decades Magazines and 
newspapers were completely banned Suspicion and 
suppression was so prevalent that a sanyasi of Ramakrishan 
Vivekananda Mission was ordered out of the State at the 
behest of the British Resident on the flimsy grounds that the 
man looked suspicious' 

Silk Factory Strike 

The Silk Factory in Srinagar employed about 500 workers, 
mostly Muslims who felt neglected and oppressed by the 
prevailing working conditions Labour unrest in the Factory 
had been brewing for quite some time because of very low 
wages, average 5 1/2 annas per day, approximately a third of 
a rupee of those times.Their strike caused a furore, and on 
the advice of the British Resident, the Viceroy, Lord Reading 
visited Srinagar in October 1924. Possibly, it was just an 
excuse to blow out of proportion an otherwise limited minor 
labour problem, which certainly was not such a cataclysmal 
event as to call for personal Viceroy's logical intervention. Far 
from It, the British Resident's intentions were certainly 
suspect. 

The leading lights of the Valley, mostly Muslim clerics 
presented a memorandum to the Viceroy highlighting various 
aspects of Muslim grievances against the Dogra 
administration with particular emphasis on employment, 
education, forced labour and land reforms. All this was sweet 
music to the Political Department of the Government of 
India, which had overall responsibility for conduct of British 
Crown's relations with the Princely States They were now 
convinced that there was something seriously amiss in this 
otherwise sensitive area of considerable strategic British 
global interests They imposed on the Maharaja the services 
of a senior ICS officer. Sir Albion Banerji appointed in 1927 
as Senior Member of the Council of State, a position 
equivalent to that of a Prime Minister of the State. However, 



104 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Sir Albion Banerji resigned in March 1929 when another 
British official, G.E.C. Wakefield took his place The net result 
of all this was increased British interference in internal 
administration of the State, particularly in the Valley and the 
areas to the North. 

The Crisis of 1931 

The Salt Satyagrah of Mahatma Gandhi and his 
subsequent arrest were the inspiration for rise in political 
temperature of the State English and vernacular newspapers 
from India carrying news of Gandhiji's non-violent agitation 
were reaching all parts of the State. The reaction to these 
developments was spontaneous peaceful demonstrations and 
hartals in Jammu, Srinagar and other towns all over the State, 
except of course Ladakh and Baltistan regions. The 
heightened political activity in British India provided a fillip 
to the Kashmiri middle class who have had exposure to 
higher education in the colleges and universities of British 
India. The foremost amongst these were Sheikh Abdullah, 
Mirza Afzal Beg and Ghulam Mohammed Sadiq who formed 
the new focus of opposition to the autocracy of the Maharaja. 
They, along with some progressive Pandits like Prem Nath 
Bazaz sought to guide the infant political movement in a 
secular democratic direction. However, the rank and file of 
the Reading Room Party along with many newly educated 
Muslim youths who were in contact with Muslim vocal 
elements of Punjab and U.P., were spreading canard of 
extremist propaganda of Pan-lslamism and communal 
disharmony. They had let loose a whispering campaign 
against the Dogras and the Hindu elite, particularly the well 
entrenched affluent Pandit community, with the tacit 
approval of the British Indian Government and the English 
Ministers in the State , with the objective erf destabilizing the 
Maharaja's rule. 

The annual sesskwt of All Kasfrmfr Muslim Conference was 
held at Lahore in December 1 930. The matni Theme of the 
speeches was denunciation of the Maharaja and Ddgra Hindu 


Political Developments Pre-Independence 


105 


rule in the State. Speaker after speaker called for agitations in 
the State to launch a campaign of vilification against the 
Dogra Ruler And when there was a lull in the proceedings, 
the bogey of "Islam in Danger" was resorted to, to keep up 
the tempo The Mir Waiz died in March 1931 His funeral 
was attended by almost the entire population of Srinagar and 
surrounding areas The new Mir Waiz, Yusuf Shah was himself 
a student from the Theological College at Deoband in U.FJ a 
hotbed of fanatical Islamic fundamentalism He was in 
complete agreement with the philosophy and precepts of the 
Reading Room Party, far from a secular outfit. And that Party 
at that time was the most visible and active political entity in 
the State in conjunction with the Muslim Conference 

The Abdul Qadir Incident 

Sometime during June 1931 it was reported that a small 
mosque in Riasi in Jammu region had been demolished by 
the Hindus with the tacit connivance of the local 
administration for which the rabble-rousers held the 
Maharaja personally responsible. An Imam was reportedly 
prevented by the local authorities from delivering the khutba, 
the usual religious sermon, and some pages of the Holy 
Quran were allegedly desecrated in the process. All sorts of 
stories and rumours were doing the rounds resulting in fiery 
denunciations from the mosques. Public meetings were held 
and processions taken out all over the State inciting the 
people to violence. One particular case was of a cook, a non- 
Kashmiri Muslim from the North Western Province who had 
come with a visiting European as his domestic help His name 
was Abdul Qadir. On 21 June 1931, he delivered an 
extraordinarily fiery speech in the Khanqah of Shah Hamdani 
advocating violence and sedition against the Maharaja's rule 
He was arrested on 25*'’ June, and that sparked further 
protests and demonstrations on a large scale, leading to 
considerable tension and unrest in the Valley as well as in 
Jammu region. 

Abdul t^adir was, put to trial at the Sessions Court m 
Srinagar on 6 July 1931 A large crowd of agitators collected 



106 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


outside the Court and it became virtually impossible to 
continue with the trial The venue of the trial was therefore 
shifted to the Central Jail where it restarted on 13'*^ July An 
irate mob of about 4-5,000 people collected at the Jail gate 
They were in a menacing mood, demanding withdrawal of 
the case and release of the accused Stones were thrown at 
the police who tried to control the situation Simultaneously, 
there was a revolt inside the jail where prisoners resorted to 
violence against the wardens and other prisoners, and cut off 
the telephone lines When the situation got completely out of 
control, the District Magistrate ordered the police to open 
fire Twenty-two persons including one policeman were killed 
and many wounded in the police firing and subsequent 
violence both inside and outside the jail One company of 
Maharaja's Bodyguards Cavalry was deployed to restore 
order, and hundreds of persons were arrested Serious clashes 
took place Protests were held all over the Valley and m 
various districts of Jammu Division As was to be expected, 
communal riots did break out even in the otherwise peaceful 
environs of the Valley in which three Hindus were killed, and 
many Hindu shops were looted and set on fire 

The Maharaja appointed a committee under Sir Barjor 
Dalai to enquire into the causes of the riots, but the Muslims 
boycotted its proceedings Thus, 13“’ July 1931 became a 
landmark in the history of Jammu and Kashmir peoples' fight 
for political freedom and democratic rule It came to be 
observed as the Martyrs Day, and Abdul Qadir suddenly 
catapulted to a celebrity status He became a 'cult figure' in 
the Kashmiri mind set That day and this man have come to 
be deeply etched in the "Kashmiri Muslim collective psyche" 

Maharaja Han Singh suspected his English chief 
executive, Mr Wakefield for having engineered the Abdul 
Qadir incident, and dismissed him Sir Han Kishan Kaul was 
appointed as the new Prime Minister of the State, a new title 
for the chief executive officer of the State 

In the Valley where amity, tolerance and goodwill 
between the communities were a centuTles old tradition, the 


Political Developments Pre-Independence 


107 


reaction to communal flare up leading to Hindu-Muslim riots 
was sharp and swift The new Prime Minister managed to 
reach a truce with the leaders of Muslim public opinion on 
26 August 1931 as result of which all agitations ceased Peace 
once again r-eturned to the Valley and the rest of the State 
Hindu-Muslim goodwill, a hallmark of the Valley, reasserted 
Itself with the realization that movement for political 
freedom, democratic rights and socio-economic justice 
would have to be channeled along healthy secular lines 

However, peace and communal harmony in the Valley 
was an anathema to the Muslims of Punjab Their interest lay 
in destabilizing the Hindu Ruler Accordingly, the All India 
Kashmir Committee formed in British India loudly denounced 
the truce arrangement lest the nascent movement gets out of 
their control, and falls into the hands of moderate liberal 
secular leadership whose roots were in the Valley proper 
Subsequent developments in the State gave ample evidence 
that the July 1931 events were a British plot whose long term 
objective was to force the hands of the Maharaja with a view 
to secure control of the strategic Northern region of Gilgit 
However, in so far as the Kashmiris themselves were 
concerned, they stuck by the truce brokered by the new 
Prime Minister, and there were no further communal riots, or 
agitations for that matter 

Glancy Commission 

While the communal conflagration in the Valley had 
cooled down to slow burning ambers, the situation m the 
south-western part of the State, which abutted on Punjab 
where communal propaganda was at its loudest continued to 
be difficult Here too the Hindus were the victims of Muslim 
atrocities in the Mirpur district, albeit for somewhat different 
reasons The peasantry m Mirpur utilized the opportunity 
offered by the communal disturbances and unrest in the State 
to settle scores with the Hindu moneylenders whose property 
becarpe the target of Muslim wrath The root cause m Mirpur 
was thus economic exploitation rather than communal in 



708 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


nature However, the Muslim reaction was not only 
communal in its outburst but was also so violently expressed 
that the local administration was not at all in a position to 
control the situation This was more so because of the active 
support the Muslim fundamentalists were receiving from 
across the State borders in British India In desperation, and 
in order to avoid further bloodshed, the government of 
Jammu and Kashmir requested the Government of India to 
send British troops to bring the situation under control As a 
result, one company of British troops was deployed in Mirpur 
and two companies in Jammu area on B'** November 1931 
Thus, the British Government was gradually gaming more and 
more ground in the day to day administration of the State 
resulting in increased pressure on the Maharaja to succumb 
to British demands In fact, immediately after the police firing 
in Srinagar, the British Government had demanded that the 
Maharaja accept the following terms within 24 hours - 

* Take definite steps to remedy the alleged Muslim 
grievances, 

* An impartial inquiry by a British officer into the 
demands of the Muslim community, 

* A European ICS officer to be appointed as the Prime 
Minister of the State 


It will thus be seen that the British were playing the 
'Muslim Card' from way back in the early 1930s, if not from 
still earlier times 

Ultimately the Maharaja did yield to pressure — from his 
own people below and the British Indian Government above, 
as a consequence of which he was forced by circumstances 
to appoint an impartial Commission of Enquiry, impartial in 
the sense that a Britisher had to be the head of the 
Commission It was on 1 2 November 1 931 that the Maharaja 
appointed Sir Bertrand J. Glancy, a senior English officiaj from 
the Foreign and Political Department of the Government of 
India as Chairman of the Commission of Enquiry It had four 



Politfcal Developments Pre-Independence 


109 


other members, one Hindu and one Muslim each from the 
Valley and Jammu Division One of the Hindu members later 
resigned but the other, the famous historian of Kashmir, Prem 
Nath Bazaz continued with the Commission till the end 

The Muslims did have a number of grievances and the 
Commission's recommendations went a long way in 
redressing the same The Muslim religious buildings taken 
over by the State Government were released Educational 
facilities were improved and employment opportunities 
widened Minimum qualifications for entry into civil service 
were relaxed to give more representation to the people at 
large. Landholders were to be granted proprietary rights. The 
system of begaar, that had been banned earlier but continued 
in one form or the other, was completely abolished in as 
much as payment for the services rendered was made 
obligatory. However, one single major fallout of the Clancy 
Commission was the introduction of a Constitution to govern 
the State granting a certain degree of franchise to the people, 
howsoever limited in application and scope 

The 1 934 Cor>stitution ordained formation of a Legislative 
Assembly of 75 members out of which 33 were elected 
members — 21 seats reserved for Muslims, 10 for Hindus 
and two for Sikhs. Although the electorate was restricted and 
barely 3% of the population was enfranchised, the new 
Assembly provided at least some forum for expression of 
public opinion, a safety valve for airing of grievances to 
release the pent up emotions. However, women were 
completely excluded from participation in the electoral 
process, or from political affairs of the State. Whatever be the 
shortcomings of the new Constitution, the process of 
democratization had at last taken some slow and halting 
steps. 

Soon after the appointment of Clancy Commission, in 
February 1932 Lieuter^ant Colonel E.j D. Colvin of the 
Foreign and Political Department of the Government of India 
was appointed the new P^me Minister in February 1932. He 



770 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


was to be assisted by three ICS officers as Ministers of Home, 
Revenue and Police Thus day to day administrative control 
of the State machinery quickly and entirely passed out of the 
Maharaja's control into the hands of the British Hereafter, for 
all intents and purposes, it was no longer the Maharaja's rule' 

The National Conference 

The involvement of Reading Room clientele into political 
activities led to the formation in October 1932 of the first 
political party of the State, All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim 
Conference It was a sort of evolutionary process, a loose 
gathering of like-minded persons graduating into a formal 
political organisation with Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the 
founder of the Reading Room Forum as its first President The 
main objective of the new party was simply social, cultural 
and economic betterment of the Muslim community, with the 
primary objective of securing a larger share of jobs in the civil 
and military echelons of the State Government 

The first annual session of the newly formed Muslim 
Conference attended by Chaudhari Ghulam Abbas from 
Jammu, Mirza Afzal Beg, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed and 
many other leading lights of the State was held at Srinagar in 
October 1932 under the Presidentship of Sheikh Abdullah 
By 1934, It was a well-established political party But 
unfortunately, there were deep-rooted divisions and factions 
amongst the Muslims themselves, verging on violent political 
rivalry During that first annual session, Sheikh Abdullah 
remarked in his presidential address, " our country's 
progress is impossible so long as we do not have amicable 
relations between the different communities "® While the 
Muslim Conference wore a communal tag, its approach and 
spirit was certainly secular in character, at least in so far as its 
founder president and the senior leaders were concerned 
Their vision was not restricted to the boundaries of thetr State 
only, and in March 1933, the Muslim Conference crfjserved 
Civil Disobedience Movememt as wm done in the rest oi the 
country 



Political Developments Pre-Independence 


777 


The first ever election in the State, under the new 
Constitution promulgated as a result of Clancy Commission 
recommendations was held in 1934 in which the Muslim 
Conference captured 1 9 of the 21 elected seats reserved for 
the Muslims 

Colonel Colvin relinquished the office of Prime Minister 
of the State in early 1936 and Sir N Gopalaswami Ayyangar 
succeeded him. The Muslim Conference observed 
"Responsible Government Day" on 8 May 1936 when Sheikh 
Abdullah appealed to Hindus and Sikhs alike to join the 
political mainstream of the Valley to secure a democratic set- 
up for the Entire State Thus, political mercury m the State 
continued to touch new highs and in 1937, a huge 
procession of labourers led by Bakshi Chulam Mohammed 
and G.M Sadiq, the two foremost labour leaders of the State, 
was taken out in the streets of Srinagar The processionists 
shouted slogans against retrenchment and unemployment, 
and for better wages, improved working conditions and a fair 
deal for the working class. This procession and the labour 
movement in general were above communal politics It 
embraced all sections of the society and several Hindu and 
Sikh leaders including Prem Nath Bazaz spoke at the 
meeting. 

The sixth annual session of the Muslim Conference was 
held on 26 March 1938. In his presidential address, the 
Sheikh exhorted the members saying — "We must end 
communalism by ceasing to think in terms of Muslims and 
non-Muslims when discussing our political problems. We 
must open our doors to alt such Hindus and Sikhs who like 
ourselves believe in the freedom of their country from the 
shackles of an irresponsible rule."^° 

The Working Committee of the All Kashmir Muslim 
Conference met at Srinagar on 28 June 1938. It was an 
epoch making meeting in which heated debate regarding 
opening thre members(hip of the Party to alt people 
"irrespetlive of ttiew caste^ creed or religion" lasted for a total 


172 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


of over 52 hours The initiative for this proposal came 
strongly from Sheikh Abdullah and Maulana Sayeed Masoodi 
whose views ultimately prevailed, and membership of the 
Party was thrown open to all communities However, serious 
differences of opinion amongst the members of the working 
committee saw the beginning of division of political 
movement in the State along secular lines by a large group of 
the leaders and the rank and file, while a small minority 
continued to nurse the old communal ideas The root cause 
of the division was the clash of personalities at the top rung 
of the leadership, and the Mirwaiz The next year, on 11**' 
June 1939, in the face of stiff opposition from some die-hards 
who persisted in keeping the old party and name alive, the 
name of the party was changed to All Jammu and Kashmir 
National Conference But the mam stream of political activity 
now vested with the newly christened National Conference 
while the old residual Muslim Conference kept tottering 
along However, in so far as Sheikh Abdullah was concerned, 
he had officially dissolved the original Muslim Conference 
and replaced it by its new all embracing secular incarnation 
whose main objectives were issues like democratic 
government, political freedom, socio-economic 
development, land reforms etc , rather than an Islamic 
agenda Thus, on the eve of Indian Independence there was 
a profound divide between the National Conference on the 
one hand and the Muslim Conference on the other which, 
with the passage of time, got further accentuated 
Meanwhile, the Muslim Conference received a shot in the 
arm through the communal politics of Mr M A jinnah and 
his All India Muslim League to whom secularism as a political 
concept in the Indian sub-continent had always been an 
anathema 

While the nationalist leaders of India's freedom 
movement were struggling for Independence, Mr 
Mohammed All Jmriah's Muslim League had jumped into the 
political arena with their "Pakistan Resolution" based on "’Rai'O 
Nation Theory" passed in 1940 This did appeal to the 


Political Developments Pre-Independence 


113 


majority of Kashmiris since they had lived in peace and 
complete harmony between the two communities for 
centuries This was abundantly evident during Pandit Nehru's 
visit to his 'land of birth' in 1940 that evoked widespread 
enthusiasm for his political philosophy and secular ideals, 
which instantly endeared him to the people of Kashmir. A 
Kashmiri hero for the Kashmiri people. It was Kashminyat all 
the way down the Jhelum, which created a wave of "spiritual 
sympathy for the Indian National Congress" amongst all the 
people of the State irrespective of religious affiliations or 
regional considerations. 

In early 1942 the British Government dispatched Sir 
Stafford Cripps on a peace mission to help in creating 
favourable civil environment for prosecution of war effort 
Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, the then Congress President 
conducted the negotiations on behalf of the Congress The 
Cripps Mission did not make any headway for various 
political reasons The Quit India movement in August 1942 
put an end to further negotiations until late 1944. The 
National Conference whole-heartedly endorsed the Indian 
National Congress stand on this issue. 

The Second World War was difficult times for the British 
and their Allies all over the world, particularly during the 
initial years. They were therefore most unhappy with the 
Indian National Congress for having launched their "Quit 
India" movement during that critical period. However, the 
reaction of the alithorities was strong and swift. The leaders 
of the movement were put behind bars and large scale 
repression let loose with thousands of arrests all over the 
country. The Princely States were no exception either; and 
the Maharaj’a of Jammu and Kashmir too did his bit — which 
was quite a big bit — not only by suppressing the nationalist 
movement f^r reforms and democracy in the State, but also 
took an active part in organizing military support for the 
British war efforts by placing units of the State Forces at their 
disposal for service in NWFP as well as in overseas theatres. 
The War years thus saw the Maharaja and the British 


114 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Government hand in glove m so far as suppression of 
peoples' movements was concerned For his unstinted 
support, he was appointed on the Imperial War Cabinet in 
which capacity he vis'ted various units in the Middle East 
theatre of operations 

The dissolved nd more or less defunct Muslim 
Conference had been revived in the Valley during 1941 
through the efforts of Mr Jinnah's All India Muslim League As 
President of the League he visited the Valley in the spring of 
1944, ostensibly for rest Jinnah was accorded a public 
reception in Srinagar by the National Conference in which it 
was said, "We Kashmiris today receive you as a prominent 
Indian despite ideological differences we have with you " to 
which Jinnah replied, "I am happy to see all classes and 
groups combined here to receive and honour me" But 
scarcely one hour after that, in another reception accorded 
by the Muslim Conference, he said, "Muslims have one 
platform, one kalma and one God I would request the 
Muslims to come under the banner of the Muslim 
Conference and fight for their rights The National 
Conference issued a sharp rejoinder to these utterances of 
Mr jinnah who in turn called the National Conference a 
'band of gangsters' This clumsy outburst from a visiting 
dignitary from British India was too much to stomach and 
resulted m jinnah's Baramula visit ending in a fiasco 

The wave of secularism-nationalism in the State, 
particularly in the Valley was so powerful that Mr Vinayak 
Damodar (Veer) Savarkar, a leader of the Hindu Maha Sabha 
during his later visit to the State was bluntly told by the 
President of Yuvak Sabha, Pandit S N Fotedar that his ideal of 
'Hindu State', as defined by him in his book 'Hindutva', was 
not acceptable to the people of Kashmir No doubt, Veer 
Savarkar (1870-1957) was a staunch nationalist and patriot m 
his owns right, and bad suffered imprisonment in the 
Andamans of kala pant notoriety for fighting against British 
rule His non-secular philosophy of Hindutva was not 
acceptable in the VaU«ey even by sofne staunch Hindu 


Political Developments Pre-Independence 


115 


organisations, even though the Jammu region people and 
parties had a soft corner for him as was evident during his 
earlier visit in July 1942 

"Quit Kashmir Movement" 

In Its annual session held at Sopore in September 1944, 
the National Conference adopted the all embracing "Naya 
Kashmir" manifesto of the Party laying great stress on the 
socialistic ideology and democratic values which the Sheikh 
had obviously imbibed from his close contacts with great 
leaders of India's freedom struggle This was a comprehensive 
ambitious document, which included human rights, right to 
work, land reforms, equality of opportunity, free universal 
education, democratic form of government with universal 
franchise, et al — every thing under the sun for the asking' 

The Indian political leaders jailed in the aftermath of 
"Quit India" movement was released in June 1945 on the eve 
of talks for transfer of power And they were conspicuous by 
their presence at the annual session of the National 
Conference held at Srinagar in August 1945 The then 
Congress President Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Pandit 
Jawahar Lai Nehru and the Frontier Gandhi, Khan Abdul 
Ghaffar Khan, amongst others, attended the session to show 
their solidarity with the politics of Sheikh Mohammed 
Abdullah, and to strengthen his hands in the Valley against 
the divisive communal forces The meeting of the Standing 
Committee of the All India States Peoples' Conference under 
the presidentship of Jawahar Lai Nehru was an important 
feature of this session A number of far reaching decisions 
towards breaking the feudalistic structure of the Princely 
States were taken at this meeting And one thing emerged 
loud and clear Political and social ideology of the people of 
Jammu and Kashmir as represented by the National 
Conference and Sheikh Abdullah was in complete accord 
with that of India, as represented by its leaders of the 
freedom struggle 



116 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


These hard times saw a number of Prime Ministers come 
and go in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. After 
Gopalaswami Ayyangar came Raja Sir Maharaj Singh followed 
by Colonel Sir K N. Haskar, Sir B N Rau who left in the 
summer of 1945, to be succeeded by Pandit Ram Chandra 
Kak He was married to an English lady and was well up with 
the British establishment. Later, when the Maharaja suspected 
his loyalty in as much as he was reported to have assured the 
accession of the State to Pakistan, he was dismissed as Prime 
Minister. 

The end of the War saw renewed hectic activity towards 
granting of self-government to India The British Cabinet 
mission arrived in Delhi in March 1946 to set the ball rollin'g 
Mr Afzal Beg who had earlier become Minister for Public 
Works Department the State, resigned on 1 7 March 1 946 
ostensibly on grounds of differences with other members of 
the Government, biit primarily on account of frustration and 
• being ham-strung in functioning of even his own department 
A month later, on 10 May 1946, the Nationaf Conference 
launched its "Quit Kashmir" movement for transfer of power 
to the people, thereby bringing the problem of Princely States 
and their future status in Independent India to the forefront 
of the Cabinet Mission, In fact, this agitation had its genesis in 
the Cabinet Mission announcement that, on the granting of 
Independence to India, the rulers of Princely States ^hall 
revert to having full ruling powers as they were before the 
establishment of the British Empire. Naturally, some of the 
rich and more powerful rulers of larger states like those of 
Jammu and Kashmir, Hyderabad, Travancore and Cochin, et 
al, started dreaming of full independence. 

It so happened that in 1946 Sheikh Abdullah was the 
President of All India States' Peoples' Conference — an 
umbrella organisation of peoples of the Princely States and a 
counterpart of the Indian National Congress in British India. 
This position held by the President of the National 
Conference further strengthened the "Quit Kashmir" 
movement. However, Mr. Jinnah was most unhappy on this 


Political Developments Pre-Independence 


117 


turn of events and described this movement as an "agitation 
carried on by a few malcontents who were out to create 
disorderly conditions m the State Jinnah's overt hostility 
towards Sheikh Abdullah and Maulvi Yusuf Shah on the one 
hand, and Sheikh Abdullah's charismatic personality and his 
great personal rapport with the senior leaders of the Indian 
National Congress on the other, went a long way in guiding 
the subsequent politico-military history of the State While 
Jinnah, an awoed secularist moved towards communal 
politics. Sheikh Abdullah traveled the political path from 
communal to secular 

The "Quit Kashmir" movement was modeled on the 
"Quit India" movement of the Congress except that, white 
the Congress was for expulsion of the British from the whole 
of India, the National Conference was dead set against the 
Dogra Dynasty, primarily because of Sheikh's political 
philosophy and his deep rooted personal animosity towards 
Maharaja Han Singh Thus the stage was now set for a clash 
between the Maharaja and the Sheikh, although in one 
respect, however, " Abdullah and Han Singh thought on 
similar lines both preferred independence, if feasible, or the 
maximum autonomy available, to becoming full part of the 
Dominion of India or Pakistan, now that partition seemed 
near 

Sheikh Abdullah was arrested There were wide spread 
disturbances in the Valley inclucling sabotage of 
communication facilities Abdullah's trial was fixed for 21 
June 1946 and Pandit Nehru decided to defend his Kashmiri 
friend at the trial court in Srinagar But he was refused 
permission to enter the State On his persistence to defy the 
prohibitory orders, he was detained in Uri dak bungalow on 
20 June 1946 This bizarre turn of events did not seem to 
make sense at all After alt, serious negotiations for transfer of 
power were in progress at Delhi, the scene of major political 
activities and epodi making developments And Pandit Nehru 
was slated to lead the Interim Government as Prime Minister 
of the country, but be had voluntarily left the scene to spend 



778 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


time m virtual detention Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad acted 
decisively and summoned Nehru back to Delhi Nehru, 
having realised the rash impetuousness of his actions, meekly 
complied However, in order to smoothen ruffled feelings. 
Lord Wavel later interceded on behalf of Pandit Nehru who 
was then allowed to visit the Valley and meet his friend. 
Sheikh Abdullah in prison in July 1946. But the Maharaja 
refused to meet Pandit Nehru citing diplomatic ill health' This 
unfortunate sequence of events was to leave an indelible 
mark on the minds of the major actors of this drama which 
was to have far reaching consequences for the entire sub- 
continent at a later stage. The minds of men who mattered 
had been soured forever. 

Sheikh Abdullah was jailed for three years. However, 
Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed and G M. Sadiq had managed to 
escape to Punjab. Muslim Conference did not support this 
"Quit Kashmir" movement which soon petered out. By the 
enjJ of 1 946, fresh elections were held to the Praja Parishad, 
the State Legislative Assembly established under the 1934 
Constitution. Since National Conference leaders were 
embroiled in agitation against the Government and the 
Sheikh was held in prison, there was no question of them 
participating in the election process. Consequently, the 
Muslim Conference won 16 of the 21 Muslim seats. On 15 
July 1947, the Muslim Conference passed a resolution 
advocating the State's accession to Pakistan while some 
factions were in favour of independence. On the other hand, 
the National Conference and Pandit Nehru believed that the 
bulk of population of the State was with them in their shared 
goal of secular independent India, while Mr. Jmnah was 
convinced that the majority of the population, being Muslim, 
was with the Muslim Conference, and hence for Pakistan. 
The great Urdu poet. Sir Mohammed Iqbal who at one time 
was in the forefront of commurval agitation in the State and 
was also of Kashmiri origin, shared the latter view. However, 
on 10 May 1947 Choudhary HamiduHah Khan, the then 
President of Muslim Conference urged Che Maharaja to 
declare himself independent. 


Political Developments Pre-Independence 


779 


At the request of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, Mahatma 
Gandhi visited Kashmir in July 1947 The people at large 
were quite delirious with joy over Gandhiji's visit whose high 
point came with the announcement l?y the Maharaja that he 
had dismissed Ram Chandra Kak whom the people 
associated with a repressive regime, and had appointed a 
former Revenue Minister, Major General Janak Singh as the 
new Prime Minister in his place 

To sum up the political landscape, it would be 
appropriate to list the "Forces and Actors on the eve of Indian 
Independence" as under’'*: - 

* The National Conference: Active and dominant in 
the Valley but very little influence in Jammu and Ladakh 
Friendly with Indian National Congress and Nehru but hostile 
towards Jinnah's Muslim League. 

* Mir Waiz Moulvi Yusuf Shah commanding wild and 
fanatical following in downtown Srinagar. 

* The Muslim Conference. Little following in the Valley 
but strong amongst Muslims of Jammu region because of their 
ideological affinity with Muslim League across the Punjab 
border 

* Maharaja Sir Hari Singh and the Dogra Rajputs The 
relationship between Nehru, Sheikh Abdullah and Maharaja 
based on mutual distrust and dislike. 

* The Maharaja was indecisive Jinnah was impatient 
Pandit Nehru was caught in between his idealism and the 
stark realities of the situation. 

During the period 1931-46 of active political struggle in 
India for Independence from the British, there was clear cut 
dichotomy in the Valley: one faction under Sheikh Abdullah 
was propagating independence, while the other under Mir 
Waiz Mohammed Yusuf Shah and the Muslim Conference 
was keen on jpining Pakistan. Below the surface of calm 
Kashmiri-brotherhood, there was distinct strain in the 
relationship between Pandit Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah 



720 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Although their objectives were apparently the same, in 
essence and development they were different in as much as 
while Nehru was keen on fitting Kashmir in the frame-work 
of a secular India as a shining example of communal 
tolerance and equality, the Sheikh wanted to see the end of 
centuries of oppression and exploitation of the Kashmiri 
people by 'outsiders' — to him the Dogras were also 
outsiders 

Such were the divergent political viewpoints in the State 
of Jammu and Kashmir when India was precariously perched 
on the threshold of Independence 


NOTES & REFERENCES 

1 Karan Singh, Dr, " Kashmir", Rupa & Co , New Delhi, p 178 

2 Lord Birdwood ("Two Nations and Kashmir", Robert Hale, Lon- 
don, 1956) quoted in "Kashmir The Troubled Frontiers", by Major 
General Afsir Karim with the Indian Defence Review Team, edited 
by Captain Bharat Verma and Manvendra Singh, Lancer Publishers, 
New Delhi, 1994, p 27 

3 Madhok B R , "Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh", Reliance, Delhi, 
1987 These figures in slight variance from the data collected by 
the Indian Defence Review Team — 78,114 sq kms (30,160 sq 
miles) with Pakistan, 5,180 sq kms (2,000 sq miles) ceded by Paki- 
stan to China, 13,297 sq kms (5,134 sq miles)under POK, 37,555 
sq kms (14,500 sq miles) under illegal occupation by China The 
data in the Encyclopaedia Britanica,1974, Vol X shows the total 
area as 86,023 sq miles (222,798 sq km) out of which Pakistan 
captured 32,358 sq miles (83,806 sq km) while 53,665 sq miles 
(138,992 sq km) remained with India The 1971 census figures on 
population show 4,600,000 in the Indian portion and 1,300,000 
in the Pakistan portion whose capital is Muzzaffarabad 

4 Bhattachaqea Ajit,"Kashfnfr - The Wounded Valley", UBS Pub- 
lishers Otstnbutors New Delhi,! 994, p 19 


Political Developments Pre-Independence 


121 


5 Francis Brunei, "Kashmir", Rupa and Co , New Delhi, p 66 

6 Major General Afsir Karim, op cit, p 72 quoting Alastair Lamb, 
"Kashmir - A Disputed Legacy", Karachi, 1993,pp 189-90 quot- 
ing US Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United 
States, 1 950, Vol V, The North East, South Asia and Africa, Wash- 
ington DC 1978, pp 1433-35 

7 Palit, D K , VrC, Major General, "Jammu And Kashmir Arms His- 
tory of the J & K Rifles", Palit & Dutt Publishers, Dehradun, 
1972, p 119 

8 Bhattacharjea, op cit pp 68-70 

9 Bamzai, Prithvi Nath Kaul, "A History of Kashmir Political-So- 
cial-Cultural from the Earliest Times to the Present Day", Metro- 
politan Book Company, Delhi, 1962, p 661 

1 0 Ibid p 664 

11 Ibid p 667 

12 Ibid p 669 

13 Bhattacharjea,op cit p 79 

1 4 Jagmohan,"My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir", Allied Publish- 
ers, New Delhi, 1991, p 82 




4 


PARTITION AND 
INDEPENDENCE 


THE PRINCELY STATES 

In the undivided India of 17,77,438 sq miles of territory, 
there were 562 Princely States They were under the British 
Indian Government's Political Department headed by Sir 
Corfield, who was earlier working to set up a separate 
Commonwealth by grouping these states together These 
states, big and small co^vered an area of 7,11,032 sq miles 
having a total population of 68,652,974 ’ The largest was 
Hyderabad with a population of 16 million, and the smallest 
on record was Vejanoness boasting of less than 1/3'^* of a 
square mile, population 200 and revenue Rs 500/- per 
annumi 

Of the 562 states, 1 08 were the macro-States, fairly large 
whose rulers were members of the Chamber of Princes in 
their own right and were categorized as "fully empowered" 
enjoying full legislative and jurisdictional powers at least in 
principle 127 were mini-States which fell in the 
intermediate bracket whose rulers were represented by 
twelve members of their order elected by themselves and 
who exercised fairly wide but certainly not absolute powers 
The remainder 327, were in the micro category — mere 
small states, estates and jagirs whose rulers had limited 
powers of jurisdiction ^ 

The Viceroy was concurrently the Governor General of 
India and also the "Crown Representative " The rulers of the 



Partition & Independence 


123 


Princely States were considered as part of the British Empire 
by virtue of their having acknowledged Paramountcy of the 
British Crown which acknowledgement having been 
'voluntary' in nature, therefore, technically the states had not 
been annexed by the British in the name of the Crown 
However, the States had neither external sovereignty nor any 
status in International Law The Paramount Power exercised 
exclusive rights over their external relations as well as their 
relations with one another. 

Memorandum by the Cabinet Commission 

The Cabinet Mission presented a Memorandum dated 12 
May 1946 to the Chancellor of Princes in India in which the 
question of future of the Princely States was defined " all 
the rights surrendered by the States to the Paramount Power 
will return to the States Political arrangements between the 
States, on the one side, and the British Crown and British 
India, on the other side, will thus be brought to an end." 
Thus, with the division of British India into two sovereign 
independent Dominions and dissolution of the British Indian 
Government, Paramountcy of the Crown was to lapse as was 
made clear in this Memorandum Therefore, technically, all 
the States would become independent entities on the 
midnight of 14 August 1947, and the option to join one 
Dominion or the other was left to the respective Princes 
There was no provision, let alone any compulsion, or even a 
modicum of necessity for the rulers to consult their subjects 
in the matter of accession. The Ruler of a State had absolute 
powers in this regard and his signatures on the dotted line of 
the Instrument of Accession was all that was required to 
decide the matter one way or the other. However, provision 
existed for a Standstill Agreement with both the Dominions 
whereby he could defer or delay his decision and continue 
with the arrangements as existing at the time of ushering in of 
Independence. Further, in the absence of Accession, Union 
of India was responsible for the defence and protection of 
such States sinceTt was to be the successor government to the 
British Coverdment which position was also recognised by 


124 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


the United Nations Organisation, in as much as the new 
Government of India was accepted as the Successor State to 
the pre-Independence State by allowing it to continue its 
original membership Pakistan was admitted as a new 
member State on her filing a fresh application. Once a Ruler 
signed the Instrument of Accession, there was no going back 
on It, although for the "Empowered States" it was limited to 
matters of defence, external affairs and communications 

Earlier, the Cabinet Mission had recommended a 
Constitution which gave India a three-tier system of 
government with a weak Centre, by granting maximum 
autonomy to the Provinces, thereby at least preserving the 
unity of the country as a "historic, geographical, cultural 
entity known as India". The Central Government was given 
control over external affairs, defence and communications In 
the second tier came the Muslim majority provinces enjoying 
complete autonomy in internal governance, leaving the rest 
in the third tier Since this was not the Jinnah's concept of 
Muslim Rule in their own areas, the Muslim League observed 
Direct Action Day on 1 August 1 946. This led to an orgy of 
communal frenzy m Calcutta for the next three days leaving 
5,000 dead and 20,000 injured m the aftermath of a 
horrendous communal conflagration, triggering communal 
violence in the rest of the country too. In September 1946 
Pandit Jawahar Lai Nehru took over as the head of an Interim 
Government with Liaqat All Khan as the Finance Minister. 
When the Finance Minister refused to release funds to other 
departments, this experiment in joint governance soon 
became a cropper. One thing led to the other, and soon 
there were signs of simmering discontent in the Defence 
Services bordering on mutiny thereby accelerating the pace 
towards the inevitable Partition. 

In the first place, undivided India could have, and would 
have become a strong world power standing in competition 
against the Western Powers. But the British (and the 
Americans) wanted to make sure of their control over the 
Indian Ocean in general, and the Arabian Sea in partiodUr/ ^ 


Partition & Independence 


125 


as to retain their stranglehold over the oil wells of Middle 
East And this could only be done through a small and weak 
country rather than a huge monolithic Indian State "The 
creation of Pakistan was a geo-strategic necessity for the 
British control of oil wealth of the Gulf because, as Sir Olaf 
Caroe, ICS observed later in his book, 'The Wells of Power', 
'the Persian Gulf opens directly at Karachi, in a real sense it's 
terminus' In the ultimate analysis, very briefly this was the 
raison d'etre for the creation of Pakistan * 

The British therefore managed to create a piquant 
situation whereby Partition was seen as the only workable 
solution to resolve the otherwise apparently intractable 
problems. In fact, the seeds for partition of India were sown 
as early as 1857 "The crux of new British approach was the 
policy of 'Divide and Rule' whose first impact was on the 
Indian Army, which was restructured on the basis of units and 
sub-units being composed of ethnic, caste and religious 
groups, so that one could be used against the other if ever 
there was a need Its final impact was on the political life in 
the country when Hindus and Sikhs versus Muslims were 
pitched against each other with intense ferocity. . 

Now, this constitutional nicety of lapse of paramountcy 
was introduced to further weaken India after it attains 
independence. 

The Indian Independence Act was passed by the British 
Parliament on 17 July 1947 This Act in conjunction with the 
Government of India Act of 1935 formed the legal basis for 
independence of India, and also provided that a State could 
accede to the Dominion of India or Pakistan by an Instrument 
of Accession executed by the Ruler Partition of India into two 
self governing sovereign Dominions therefore became a 
certainty with the date of Independence to be advanced from 
June 1948 to 15 August 1947 as per the Mountbatten Plan for 
the Transfer of Power announced on 3 June 1947 Ironically, 
this date of 15 August also happened to be the second 
anniversary of V-J Day, Victory over Japan in the Second 



726 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


World War' This Plan gave just 73 days to partition a sub- 
continent of the size of Europe (less the Soviet Union) having 
eleven provinces under direct British rule and 562 Princely 
States under indirect British rule Indeed, this time frame was 
much too tight to resolve the numerous complex issues — 
geo-political, socio-economic, administrative, military, 
division of assets of all types, et al However, by 1 5 August 
1947, all States geographically contiguous to India had signed 
the Instrument of Accession with the exception of the States 
of Jammu and Kashmir, Hyderabad, Junagarh and some States 
in the Kathiawad peninsula. 

Boundary Commission 

The conceptual basis for the Partition of India was the 
British inspired, and Jinnah propounded "Two-Nation 
Theory" The Muslim majority areas were to go to Pakistan 
and the rest would remain as India, a secular entity where 
Muslims would continue to enjoy the same rights and 
privileges as the majority Hindu population. The immediate 
requirement therefore was to delineate on paper the -line 
separating the two Punjabs and the two Bengals. Here we are 
concerned only with the partition of Punj'ab This assumed 
extraordinary significance because of the basic rule of 
geographical contiguity as the deciding factor as to which 
Dominion a particular State may go to. 

A British jurist, Sir Cyril Radcliffe was appointed 
Chairman of the proposed Boundary Commission with two 
local members, Mr. justice Mehar Chand Mahajan of the 
Punjab High Court was one of them. Mr. Mahajan hailed 
from Kangra and as a young lawyer he had practiced in 
Gurdaspur District Courts. 

Sir Radcliffe arrived in Delhi on 8 July 1947. He had 
never been to the Indian sub-continent earlier, and it is 
generally believed that he was quite ignorant about ethnic, 
social, cultural, political and above all, religious diversities 
and communal divicle of undivided India. With practically no 
knowledge of the Country and its people, he had to carry out 



Partition & Independence 


127 


a " most complex and potentially explosive act of socio- 
political surgery in history" in a matter of barely five weeks 
The task "to demarcate the boundaries of the two parts of 
Punjab on the basis of ascertaining the contiguous majority 
areas of Muslims and non-Muslims In doing so it will take 
into account other factors." — a task which he, along with his 
fellow Hindu and Muslim judges was required to carry out in 
complete secrecy 

The three eastern tehsils of Curdaspur district of Punjab 
were the key to provide, or not to provide geographical 
contiguity to the State of Jammu and Kashmir with India, and 
thereby the option for accession to the Dominion of India 
Without Curdaspur there would have been no land route 
from India to the State of Chamba, the districts of 
Dharamsala as well as to Kulu, Manali, Lahaul and Spiti. The 
Upper Ban Doab Canal also ran through Curdaspur to irrigate 
the districts of Amritsar and Ferozepur besides being the only 
source of water to the 'Sarovar' (Holy Lake) surrounding the 
holy Sikh Colden Temple of Amritsar. Curdaspur was 
therefore to be legitimately awarded to India, more so in the 
light of the terms of reference of the Commission which 
stipulated that, besides the population mix and geographical 
contiguity, while giving the Award, the Commission was 
required to take into consideration such other factors as 
disruption of rail communications, water systems etc In the 
end, the three eastern tehsils of Curdaspur were awarded to 
India thereby giving land access to the State of Jammu and 
Kashmir from the Indian Punjab, and hence the admissibility 
of Its Accession to the Indian Union a distinct possibility.^ 
The Radcliffe Award was made public, not before, but three 
days after Indian Independence, on 18* August 1947 in 
order to avoid any bad blood during Mountbatten's visit to 
Karachi to take part in the festivities connected with the birth 
of Pakistan on 13-14 August. However, Jmnah was not 
prepared to accept this position so easily. He attempted to 
visit Kashmir on 28* August but Maharaja Han Singh refused 
to give perrrtission. Thus, relations between the two soured 
from day one. 




128 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


There is no doubt at all that the Gurdaspur Award was 
the key, the single most crucial element in deciding the future 
course of politico-military events m the sub-continent It 
generated intense heat on both sides of the Radcliffe Line in 
Punjab at that time leading to great controversies with 
accusations of political manoeuvering, conspiracies and 
behind the scene manipulations giving rise to scandalous 
charges against Pandit Nehru and the Mountbattens These 
charges and counter-charges which have been discussed 
thread bare by various authorities on the subject are rooted 
in the personal relationships of the various key actors in the 
drama; Nehru and the Mountbattens on the one hand, and 
Mr. Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten on the other — the former 
warm and friendly, the latter cool and hostile. 

THE MAHARAJA DITHERS 

Right from the day Sir Stafford Cripps visited the state, 
and thereafter the Cabinet Mission, Maharaja Sir Han Singh 
started nurturing dreams of grandeur, of crowning himself as 
the King of an independent State. His flirtations with ideas of 
complete independence from both India and Pakistan was, to 
an extent understandable, in as much as besides these two 
immediate neighbours, his State, almost the size of British 
Isles with a population of four millions spread over an area of 
nearly 86,000 sq miles had common land borders with 
Afghanistan, Tibet, Chinese province of Sinkiang To cap it 
all. It was very close to the Soviet Union from which it was 
separated by a thin narrow Wakhan tract of Afghanistan and a 
small section of Sinkiang in the Taghdumbash Pamir. To 
further confound the already complex situation, Hari Singh's 
closest companion, Victor Rosenthal — a white Russian who 
fled his homeland in 1917 in the wake of the Bolshevik 
Revolution — and the Maharaja's adviser, Raj Guru Swami 
Sant Dev leading a life of luxury at State expense in the 
palatial Chashmeshahi Guest House had planted in my 
father's mind visions of an extended kingdom sweeping 
down to Lahore itself, where our ancestor Maharaja Gutah 


Partition & Independence 


129 


Singh and his brothers Raja Dhyan Singh and Raja Suchet 
Singh had played such a crucial role a century earlier "® 
Unfortunately for all concerned, that was Han Singh's modus 
Vivendi and there is nothing that his Son, or any body else 
could do about it 

In any case, the long term political ambitions and the 
grandiose dream in the mind of Maharaja Sir Han Singh had 
already become crystal clear from his pronouncement on 15 
July 1946, "We look forward to taking our due place in the 
new constitutional structure of India But our concern for 
the progress of India does not imply acceptance by us of 
dictation in our internal affairs This declaration and some 
correspondence and pronouncements of Prime Minister Kak 
seem to have provoked the then British Resident in the State, 
Lieutenant Colonel Webb to have sent a rather alarming 
report to the Viceroy, Lord Wavel on 14 November 1946," 

I am seriously inclined to think that the Maharaja and Kak are 
seriously considering the possibility of Kashmir not joining the 
Union if It IS formed Kashmir will be free to ally herself 
with any power, not excluding Russia 

Lord Louis Mountbatten was installed as the last Viceroy 
of India on 24 March 1947 The various acts of commission 
and omission on the part of the Maharaja and his Prime 
Minister in the context of the then prevailing political 
situation could not have gone un-noticed by the new 
Viceroy, nor would he have been unaware of the contents of 
above dispatches by the then British Resident to the Secretary 
to the Crown Representative (the Viceroy's title in relation to 
the Princes) 

In order to nip the evil in the bud. Lord Mountbatten, the 
Lady, and the Chief of Staff, Lord Ismay flew to Srinagar on 
17 June 1947 and stayed there for full five days till 23 June 
This was a rather longish absence from Delhi for the Viceroy, 
more so in the light of far reaching developments in those 
momentous times when history was being created at fast- 
forward speed 




130 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Despite 5-6 days of stay in the Valley, the Viceroy could 
not hold any substantive discussions with the Maharaja who, 
on one pretext or the Either, deliberately avoided any serious 
conversation with th" visitors His Son, Dr Karan Singh has 
aptly summed up the henanigans of his Father on page 48 of 
his Autobiography. 

"A typical feudal reaction to a difficult situation is to avoid 
facing It, and my father was particularly prone to this Instead of 
taking advantage of Mountbalten's visit to discuss the whole 
situation meaningfully and trying to arrive at a rational decision, 
he first sent the Viceroy on a prolonged fishing trip to Thricker 
(where Mountbatten shocked our staff by sun-bathing in the 
nude) and then — having fixed a meeting just before his 
departure, got out of it on the plea that he had suddenly 
developed a severe attack of colic Thus the last real chance of 
working out a viable political settlement was lost 


A Peep into Junagarh 

The micro-State of Junagarh m the Kathiawar Peninsula 
was a mirror image of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. While 
the latter was a Muslim majority area with a Hindu ruler, 
Junagarh was a Hindu majority state with a Muslim Nawab, 
Sir Mahabat Khan Rasulkhanji who had a strong passion for 
dogs of whom he had a veritable kennel 'club' of 150 Like 
Maharaja Han Singh, the Nawab Sahib also did not decide 
on the matter of Accession before 15 August 1947; and 
hence the problem. 

Other States of the Kathiawar region, which had already 
acceded to India, bounded Junagarh on three sides, and on 
the fourth side was the Arabian Sea. It was the largest 
amongst the numerous States in the region, covering an area 
of 3,400 sq. miles with a population of 671,000 of which 
80% were Hindus. The State was not geographically 
contiguous to West Pakistan, nor could it claim land access 
therewith; however, by the maritime route from its seaport of 
Veraval, Karachi was 325 nautical miles away. To make 


Partition & Independence 


131 


matters still more complicated, Junagarh had enclaves in 
bordering States of Gondal, Baroda and Bhavnagar, all of 
which had acceded to India, and in turn had their own 
enclaves embedded inside Junagarh State' Therefore, in all 
fairness and in conformity with the rules of the game, all the 
Kathiawar States had to accede to the Union of India as a 
whole, and that was also the legal position But the Nawab 
decided to cast his lot, and that of his subjects with Pakistan. 
However, the Dewan of the State, Khan Bahadur Abdul Qadir 
Mohammed Hussain repudiated any suggestion to join 
Pakistan Since the Dewan was a sick man — real or 
diplomatic — Shah Nawaz Bhutto (Father of Zulfikar Ah 
Bhutto and grand father of Benazir Bhutto, the future Prime 
Ministers of Pakistan) was appointed as the new Dewan who 
immediately announced the accession of the State to 
Pakistan, notwithstanding geographical and communal 
arguments to the contrary. This clandestine act of accession 
was intimated to India on 18 August 1947, and Pakistan's 
acceptance of the same was conveyed to India on 13 
September 1947. Lord Mountbatten sent his Chief of Staff, 
Lord Ismay to Karachi to convince Pakistan of the 
incompatibility of this Accession, but to no avail Possession is 
the nine points of faw. Pakistan's argument was that the Ruler 
of the State had the sole right and privilege to decide as to 
which Dominion his State will accede to, and the Nawab had 
decided in favour of Pakistan: And that is where the matter 
ended in so far as Pakistan was concerned. 

The Khan of Manavadar State having an area of barely 
1 00 sq miles and contiguous to Junagarh State on three sides 
also announced his choice for Pakistan but the Sheikh of 
Mangrol, a tiny State adjoining Junagarh signed in favour of 
India, and so did the Raja of Babanawad The Nawab of 
Junagarh refused to accept this position asserting that since 
Mangrol was an "Attached State" to Junagarh, it could not 
independently exercise its right to accede to India. The same 
situation arose in respect of some other 'estates' and the 
Nawab of Junagarh despatched his State troops to enforce his 




132 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


authority to decide about the matter of accession of such 
"Attached States" In September 1947, a delegation from 
Junagarh reached Karachi and held meetings with officials of 
Defence and Foreign ministries The Defence Secretary of 
Pakistan, Colonel K M Iskandar Mirza in consultation with 
the Foreign Secretary, Mr Ikram Ullah deputed Lieutenant 
Colonel K M Sheikh, GS01 in Headquarters 8 Division to 
visit the State, and to report on the Indian military threat in 
the area A Pakistan Navy Corvette about a mile off shore 
dropped Colonel Sheikh with two military signalers from 
Veraval, the site of the historic Som Nath Temple The party 
landed about 3 am and managed to reach Junagarh at about 

2 00 pm'2 

India moved 7 Infantry Brigade and some armour to 
Rajkot for deployment in Kathiawar region to protect those 
States, which had acceded to India The matter was discussed 
in the Joint Defence Council on 1** October 1947 but no 
compromise solution could be reached However, on 30 
September 1947 itself, rightly or wrongly. Pandit Nehru had 
accepted the idea of a Plebiscite to resolve the crisis 

In the meantime, the general conditions in Junagarh 
deteriorated considerably There was all round civil unrest 
and resentment against the Nawab for his unilateral decisions 
and actions against India, as well as the neighbouring sister 
States of the Kathiawar region Finding the situation getting 
out of control, the Nawab with three out of his four wives 
and some dogs fled in a Dakota to Karachi Colonel Sheikh 
and party were evacuated by boat The Dewan, Sir Shah 
Nawaz Bhutto handed over power to the Government of 
India on 9 November 1947 While taking charge of the 
situation, the Government of India informed the Government 
of Pakistan that they were doing so to avoid disorder and 
chaos The changeover was completely peaceful As promised 
by India, after normal conditions had been restored, a 
referendum was held on 20 February 1948 Out of an 
electorate of 200,000, 190,000 votes were cast of which only 
91 were for Pakistan In the adjornwig esta^, 31,434 vnrti»s 


Partition & Independence 


133 


were cast and only 39 were for Pakistan. And, thus ended the 
.fiasco of Junagarh and its "Attached States" 

Sardar Patel who had overall responsibility for integration 
of the Princely States into the Indian Union was most 
unhappy about Pandit Nehru's offer of a referendum in 
Junagarh A very wrong and undesirable precedent had been 
set providing a lever to Pakistan, and other interested parties 
In the fiasco of junagarh, Jinnah lost the territory of that State 
but gained a significant diplomatic victory with the 
acceptance by India of the principle of referendum to 
ascertain the wishes of the people as a deciding factor to 
determine the validity of accession, even though all along 
Pakistan was earlier insisting that the Nawab of junagarh was 
the sole arbiter of his State Furthermore, there was no such 
stipulation either in the Cabinet Mission Memorandum, nor 
in any other act or legislation which required a ruler, or the 
Dominion to which he acceded, to ascertain the wishes of 
the subjects of that State Pandit Nehru had thus introduced a 
new and unnecessary element in the otherwise already 
extremely complex fluid situation, to the detriment of India, 
even though it was otherwise in good faith and in keeping 
with Nehru's political temperament of idealism. 

Conversely, junagarh proved to be a trap for Pakistan in 
which Mr jinnah willy-nilly got himself entangled voluntarily 
If a Hindu majority State with a Muslim ruler could 
legitimately accede to Pakistan, and jinnah readily accepted 
that accession as final and irrevocable, obviously, a Muslim 
majority State with a Hindu ruler could equally accede to 
India Therefore, there would be no earthly reason for 
Pakistan to object to that Accession This was most significant 
fallout from junagarh in so far as India and the State of 
jammu and Kashmir were concerned. 

Another noteworthy fallout from Junagarh was a note 
from the three British Chiefs of Staff of India's Armed Forces 
that they, the British officers would not participate in a war 
between India and Pakistan In other words, the dark clouds 



134 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


of Indo-Pak war were already discernible on the horizon so 
soon after the division of the sub-continent' 

Yet another important development arising out of 
Junagarh events was that the Governor General of India, Lord 
Louis Mountbatten had come to chair the meetings of the 
Defence Committee of the Indian Cabinet The implications 
of this constitutional deviation were to make their impact on 
the forthcoming military events in due course 

A Glance at Hyderabad 

In the Nizam State of Hyderabad too the Ruler was a 
Muslim while the population — the largest amongst all the 
Princely States at about 16 million — was predominantly 
non-Muslim Since Indian Territory surrounded the State on 
all sides, the question of its opting for Pakistan did not arise 
So the Nizam of Hyderabad chose complete independence 
as his goal As a matter of fact, as far back as April 1 946, the 
President of the Executive Council of Hyderabad had told the 
then Viceroy that the Nizam was m favour of declaring 
Independence as and when the British withdrew from India 
And on 15 August 1947, the Nizam announced the status of 
an independent sovereign State, which was promptly rejected 
by the Government of India 

A number of meetings took place between the 
representatives of the Nizam and the Government of India A 
number of draft agreements were prepared but the resolution 
of the problem was no where in sight The state of 
uncertainty with respect to the status of Hyderabad, together 
with the developments in Junagarh acted as a tonic to 
Maharaja Sir Han Singh who continued to toy with the idea 
of independence for his dream of "Switzerland of the East" 

PARTITION & ITS AFTERMATH 

On 15 August 1947, the State of Jannmu and Kashmir was 
technically independent under the rule of Maharaja Sir Han 
Sipgh 


Partition & Independence 


135 


At this time most of the political leaders of the Valley, 
both from the National Conference and the Muslim 
Conference were in prison In so far as the State Legislature 
was concerned, the Muslim Conference had a strong 
presence there while the National Conference did not 
occupy a single seat since this Party had boycotted the 
elections However, the National Conference was otherwise a 
well-organised well-knit party with a very large following in 
the Valley, and to some extent in Jammu region too The 
intelligentsia of the State were generally with the National 
Conference while the Islamic fundamentalists ruled the roost 
in the Muslim Conference, which had a strong following in 
western Jammu region as well as in some pockets of 
downtown Srinagar There was complete uncertainty as to the 
future of the State No body knew which way the balance 
would tilt — Pakistan or India, for all practical purposes, 
there was no third option 

The Maharaja's dilemma continued and In the heart of 
his heart, he yearned for Independence. And so did Sheikh 
Abdullah, albeit for altogether different reasons. And for both 
the end product was an Asian Switzerland. But how? That 
was the million-dollar question. And security risk was the 
major constraint in this beautifully green scenario. Who 
would guarantee the security of an independent State of 
Jammu and Kashmir; how would that guarantee is enforced; 
and how effective would that guarantee be? 

At this point of time, resistance to Maharaja's rule 
amongst his subjects had already reached a fairly high point 
with the Poonch Rebellion making matters most difficult for 
him If Hari Singh opts for Pakistan, it was more than likely 
that in the final analysis he would end up with sweet nothing 
— neither independence, nor autonomy, nor the dynastic 
constitutional hereditary rule. In fact, his own gut feeling and 
the opinion of his close advisers was that in Pakistan, he 
would soon lose his Gaddi. On the other hand, if he opted 
for India, he would have to countenance Sheikh Abdullah 
and Pandit Nehru with both of whom there was no love lost 




736 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Both these options were fraught with one danger or the 
other And that made the decision all the more difficult So 
the stalemate continued 

The Pakistanis, in particular the Punjabi Musalmans, and 
many Muslims of the State specially in the Jammu region 
started having serious doubts about the ultimate fate of this 
strategic territory of nearly 85,000 square miles The Pakistani 
establishment also felt that military security of Pakistan would 
be easily jeopardized in the long run if Indian troops come to 
control the western borders of the State, since the 
Rawalpindi-Lahore road-rail corridor could thus be easily 
threatened by the Indian Armed Forces. The location of 
Mangla-Headworks within the State of Jammu and Kashmir, 
as well as its close proximity borders added to the security 
concerns of the nascent State of Pakistan. 

The Prime Minister of the State, Mr. Ram Chandra Kak 
was dismissed and placed under house arrest Major General 
Janak Singh, a kin of the Maharaja took over as Prime 
Minister on 12 August 1947. And on that date, identical 
telegrams were sent to the Governments of India and 
Pakistan stating that, " . Jammu and Kashmir Government 
would welcome Standstill Agreement with Union of India on 
all matters. It is suggested that the existing arrangements 
should continue pending settlement of details and formal 
execution of fresh agreements." Pakistan accepted the 
suggestion and entered into a Standstill Agreement with the 
Government of Jammu and Kashmir on all matters regarding 
communications, supplies, post and telegraph arrangements, 
economic and trade relations, etc., as provided in the Indian 
Independence Act of 1947. But the Government of India 
wanted further discussions before taking a decision. As later 
events proved, Pakistan signed the Agreement only towards 
its total infringement, and right from the beginning had no 
intention what^ever of complying with it in any way 
whatsoever. 


Partition & Independence 


137 


Communal Riots 

Large-scale communal riots had started all over Punjab, 
U.P, Bihar and many other parts of India, particularly 
Northern and Eastern India well before August 1947. By the 
time the two Dominions came into being, communal 
violence in its intensity, ferocity and savagery of atrocities 
inflicted on innocent men, women, children and infants 
reached a crescendo unheard of in the annals of civilized 
society. Law and order had completely broken down on both 
sides of the Punjab border and the Sudhan tract adjoining the 
State of Jammu and Kashmir Mob violence was the only rule, 
the only law. All round disturbances made the task of 
establishing the new Dominions extremely difficult, well nigh 
impossible The Kashmir Valley was perhaps the only island of 
sanity in the whole of Northern India, free from communal 
frenzy, which prompted Mahatma Gandhi's pronouncement 
m his Prayer Meeting on 29 December 1947, "My sole hope 
and prayer is that Kashmir would become a beacon light in 
this benighted sub-continent The situation was further 
exacerbated by Mr Mohammed All Jinnah, the first Governor 
General of Pakistan and his Prime Minister, Liaqat All Khan 
both feeling completely betrayed by the Radcliffe Award 
which gave the three eastern tehsils of Gurdaspur district to 
the Indian Punjab. 

The worst aspect of the communal conflagration was 
complete breakdown of local civil administration in both 
parts of Punjab as well as Delhi. Large scale exodus of 
minority communities from "the two halves of the two 
provinces" where they were forced to abandon their 
ancestral lands, properties and means of livelihood to seek 
shelter and safety in the other half, giving rise to long winding 
columns on foot, bullock carts, lorries of sorts, railway trains 
packed like sardines inside as well as atop the roof, facing 
untold hazards enroute, fleeing into the unknown future. 
Transmigration of entire populations on a gigantic scale 
unheard of in the history of the world was taking place m the 
wake of much awaited and sought after Freedom It was 




138 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


confusion and savagery galore. With the civil administration 
completely paralysed, the military had to step m to sort out 
the numerous complex problems, to put a stop to the rot 

Poonch Rebellion 

Ethnically, culturally, linguistically and religiously, the 
Poonchis — as the Muslims of Poonch area of Jammu region 
were known as — were closer to the Muslims of West Punjab 
than with those of the Valley In fact, although the Sudhans of 
Mirpur-Kotli-Poonch belt contiguous to West Punjab formed a 
big chunk of population of the State, they had very little in 
common with the Kashmiris except the bond of Islam The 
Valley Muslims were far too tolerant and secular in their 
outlook besides being Shias who reacted to the Ahmediyas in 
a rather friendly acceptable manner, whereas the Punjabi 
Musalmans were largely Sunnis and highly fanatical m their 
outlook 

The trouble in Poonch started in June 1947 with the "No 
Tax" movement launched by the economically weak Muslim 
community. With communal riots brewing up in the 
neighbouring areas of Punjab and imminence of Partition, this 
agitation soon escalated into a secessionist movement The 
situation became all the more tense and sensitive with the 
induction of nearly 60,000 recently demobilized veterans of 
the Second World War — young, energetic, well trained men 
for most of whom the days hung much too heavily with 
nothing much to do, or to look forward to, to keep 
themselves busy or amused 

Ever since the British declaration of their intent to 
partition India and create two Dominions on the basis of 
"Two Nation Theory", most Poonchis, many Muslims in the 
rest of the State and the Muslims of Punjab had come to take 
it for granted that down the road, Jammu and Kashmir would 
become part of Pakistan, on the obvious assumption that 
more than 75% population being Muslirns. However, just as 
the Radcliffe Award had depressed the top lea-ders of 
Pakistan, so were the Poonchis and others whose hopes and 



Partition & Independence 


139 


aspirations were now thrown in jeopardy They started having 
serious doubts about the future status of their territory, not 
knowing which Dominion they would end up in — in their 
minds, the choice was between Muslim Pakistan, or Hindu 
India, the idea of a secular India not being entertained by 
most of them. 

In defiance of the Dogra Rule, 14 August 1947 was 
observed as "Kashmir Day" in the Valley and in the rest of the 
State as it had been ever since 1931 This coincidence with 
the birthday of Pakistan and Indian Independence the next 
day added fuel to the fire The Poonchis tried to celebrate 
that as "Pakistan Day" On 15^*' August they raised Pakistani 
flags inviting harsh retribution from the authorities, leading to 
serious communal problems at Rawalkot on 22"*' August 
Muslim crowds attacked non-Muslims in Bagh-Rawlakot area 
One thing led to another, and the result was severe violent 
clashes between the Poonchi Muslim crowds and the Hindu 
Dogra State troops who had been deployed to quell the 
disturbances There was large number of civilian casualties, 
which further aggravated the already tense situation 

As a reaction to communal riots in the Pakistani Punjab 
from where Hindus and Sikhs in lakhs were being driven out 
like cattle from their stables with untold savage atrocities 
inflicted on them, the Hindus in Jammu under the 
organisational leadership of Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh, 
and the Sikhs by the Akalis started taking revenge upon the 
Muslims of Jammu, driving out nearly 50,000 of them 
towards the west to Pakistani Punjab. Their plight and sight 
further exacerbated the already grave situation in Poonch 
area 

In order to control the latest developments, the State 
authorities ordered the people of Poonch to surrender their 
personal arms. The forced surrender of personal weapon was 
deemed an affront by the Poonchis and resulted in 
considerable resentment against the State administration 
which was all the more pronounced amongst the ex- 



140 


Militaiy Plight of Pakistan 


servicemen who formed a significant portion of the vocal 
population. The Poonchis and Punjabi Musalmans were not 
prone to tolerate such personal indignities Soon reports 
started circulating that the confiscated arms had been 
distributed amongst the Hindus and Sikhs of Jammu City and 
suburbs for use against the Muslims of the town Besides 
increasing the unrest considerably, this led to a clamour 
amongst the Poonchis for arms and ammunition which 
demand was readily met from Northwestern Frontier 
Province where there had always been a thriving market in 
illegal arms and ammunition A regular supply line for arms 
and ammunition was soon established with the connivance of 
the local civil authorities of that Province and the newly 
established government of Pakistani Punjab 

With so much at stake and so much of resources being 
poured into it, the Poonch movement soon graduated into a 
full fledged rebellion against the authority of the State 
Muslim officers and men of the State Forces units deserted, 
almost in toto and joined the so-called volunteers from across 
the border, which included some INA officers and men 
released after the Second World War Sardar Mohammed 
Abdul Qayyum Khan, a young landlord of Poonch, later to 
become "Prime Minister" of "Azad Kashmir" was in the 
forefront of this agitation Another prominent leader was 
Mohammed Ibrahim Khan, a young lawyer who had been 
elected to the Praja Parishad (Legislative Assembly formed 
under the 1934 Constitution) on Muslim Conference ticket 
and went over to Pakistani Punjab, where he established an 
unofficial 'command post' at Murree to guide, control and 
support the resistance movement. 

However, the Valley Beautiful continued to remain 
beautifully unblemished by this virus of communalism, and 
became all the more pristine after the Qabailis started 
knocking at the doorsteps of Srinagar "One might form an 
impression from these incidents in Jammu and in 
Muzzaffarabad, Domel area that the Muslims in the State had 
risen against the Government and wished to join Pakistan. 



Partition & Independence 


141 


Nothing could be further from the truth Thousands upon 
thousands of Muslims in the Government, the State Forces 
and in the National Conference, the political party led by 
Sheikh Abdullah braved death in stemming the invasion 
Many Muslim officers and men of the Jammu and Kashmir 
State Forces were later absorbed m the Indian Army 

Soon after assuming charge as Chief of Staff, Brigadier 
Rajinder Singh took a series of measures to control the 
situation. As a first step, about 3-5 miles wide belt of territory 
all along the border was cleared of all civilians State troops 
were deployed in defensive positions at Bagh, Rawalkot, 
Poonch, Kotli, Mirpur, Jhangar and Naushera As these 
defensive measures were in the process of being 
implemented, hostliles attacked small State Forces garrisons 
at Thorar, Tam and Mang On night 8/9 October the 
hostilities started in Mirpur sector and soon spread all along 
the southern borders from Akhnur down to Kathua area. 

By October 1 947, the town of Poonch along with its 
garrison of State Forces was surrounded by the Sudhans 
under command of Major Bostan Khan and Captain Hassan, 
both of whom had deserted from the State Forces along with 
most of their co-religionists. The hostiles were actively 
assisted by batches of men in Pakistan regular army uniforms 
using light machine guns and radio coinmunication 
equipment. The State Forces bad to evacuate Fort Owen on 
15''’ October resulting in Kotli-Poonch route being cut off 
The hostiles further intensified their activities in Bhimber, 
Mirpur and Kotli. These activities were part of a well- 
coordinated plan by Pakistan to split the State Forces 
garrisons into penny pockets all along the border areas so that 
they become ineffective as an organised fighting force.’® 

Economic Blockade 

The State and its Government were under intense 
pressure from all sides. But it seems the Maharaja was 
completely oblivious of the developments around him' He 
continued to dither, remained indecisive in the vain hope 




742 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


that some magical power would come to his rescue to save 
the kingdom for him and his dynasty. 

Pakistan started to tighten the noose in a well-planned 
manner, gradually, but steadily and consistently, to pressurise 
the Maharaja to accede to Pakistan even though the Muslims 
of the Valley, barring some exceptions in downtown Srinagar, 
were not at all in favour of Pakistan. The only ground routes 
for carriage of essential supplies like food, petrol and 
lubricants, salt, cloth, kerosene oil etc., both for the Valley 
and Jammu Division were through Pakistani Punjab and the 
Government of Pakistan withheld these supplies on one 
pretext or the other, to throttle the States' life and economy 

Road, rail, postal, telephone and telegraph 
communications to the State were all routed through Pakistan 
, and these were all cut or disrupted at the border posts on 
the Pakistani side resulting in strangulation of the State. 
Traders and transporters were afraid of venturing into the 
customs posts areas for fear of mob violence and robbery, 
toot and murder with the result that customs revenue at 
Domel post which used to be about Rs 30,000/- per day 
dropped down to barely a few hundred rupees. 

The State was dependent for banking services on the 
banks located at Lahore, Rawalpindi and Sialkot. As a result 
of the undeclared economic blockade imposed by the 
Government of Pakistan, Lahore Currency Office placed 
restrictions on remittances of money to Imperial Bank, 
Srinagar resulting in great financial hardship to the public at 
large The economic and commercial blockade imposed by 
Pakistan caused untold misery and difficulties to the hapless 
citizenry of the State, irrespective of their religious 
affiliations 

All these measures imposed by the authorities in Pakistan, 
directly or indirectly, discreetly or otherwise, were intended 
to force the accession of the State to Pakistan, by hook or by 
crook. Pakistan wanted Kashmir at all costs. It was an 
obsession, which Pakistan could iH afford to relinquish. After 



Partition & Independence 


143 


all, the very basis of Pakistan was the communal divide, and 
that alone justified in their conscience all the steps, right or 
wrong, taken in that direction 

Joint Military Command 

The Partition of India was not a mere geographical 
exercise, it involved all facets Every single part of the original 
monolith had to suffer the pangs of drastic surgery. And the 
armed forces were no exception However, in order to 
stabilise the military structure of the two Dominions, Field 
Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck, GCIE, GCB, CSI, DSO, OBE, 
Commander-in-Chief India was redesignated as Supreme 
Commander with effect from 15 August 1947 for the Joint 
Defence Council of the two Dominions. The composition of 
the Joint Defence Council was. the two Governors General, 
the two Defence Ministers, and the Commander-in-Chief 
India who had no authority for law and order, nor any 
operational control, nor any power to move troops within the 
borders of either Dominion Thus, contrary to earlier noble 
intentions and expectations, it soon became apparent that for 
all practical purposes, his authority over the armed forces of 
the two Dominions was merely notional, more on paper than 
in reality Initially, the Government of India had accepted the 
formation of Supreme Headquarters for a period of four 
years with effect from 15 August 1947. But the military 
developments immediately after Independence rendered the 
existence of such a set up completely redundant. Resultantly, 
leave alone four years, the Supreme Headquarters did not 
last even four months; the same was closed down on 30 
November 1947 at the initiative of the Government of India. 
One of the major facto: s leading to this decision was Sardar 
Patel's clear perception of the pro-Pakistan attitude of British 
military officers holding key positions m India. 

Notwithstanding the initial establishment of the Supreme 
Headquarters, both countries had their separate heads of the 
three services Lieutenant General Sir Rob Lockhart, KCB, 
CIE, MC, was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Indian 




144 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Army Again his command too was rather short lived, till 31 
December 1947 only At the request of the Government of 
India General Sir FR Roy Boucher, KBE, CB, MC was 
appointed the new C-in-C, Air Marshal Sir Thomas Elmhirst 
headed the (Royal) Indian Air Force while Rear Admiral J TS 
Hall was Chief of the (Royal) Indian Navy. Similarly, Pakistan 
had Its own three Chiefs of the three military services 
Lieutenant General Sir Frank Messervy was the first Chief of 
Pakistan Army till 15 February 1948 when he was succeeded 
by his Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Sir Douglas Gracey 

Punjab Boundary Force was another joint military set- 
up, comprising of both Indian and Pakistani troops, 
established to facilitate law and order in the two halves of 
Punjab, particularly in the newly formed borders of the two 
countries. This experiment too proved unworkable right from 
the^start and was dismantled as early as 1“ September 1947 
when both the Dominions assumed direct responsibility for 
law and order in their respective parts of the Punjab 

Another somewhat joint military structure that came into 
being in the wake of Partition and the communal 
conflagration was the MEO, the Military Evacuation 
Organisation commanded by Major General S.B S. Chimni 
which was responsible for evacuation of civilian refugees 
from one part of Punjab to the other. That is to say, to 
undertake escort duties for Hindu and Sikh refugees 
emigrating from Pakistani Punjab to India, and for the Muslim 
refugees from India to Pakistani Punjab. However, the 
number of refugees coming into India was far more than 
those going in the other direction. It is estimated that the 
minorities that were to migrate to Indian Punjab formed 47% 
of the population. The General commanding the MEO 
informed on 7 October 1947 that, till that date, 16 lakh 
refugees had been evacuated, 4.5 lakhs were on the move 
and 20 lakhs more were awaiting to be moved to India. 

Division of Armed Forces 

Armed Forces Reoonatiturtion Committee <AF*RC) was yet 
another organisation, an expert committee under the 



Partition & Independence 


145 


Partition Council entrusted with the task of dividing the 
military establishments and defence assets between the two 
new Dominions The Supreme Commander was the 
Chairman of this Committee Sir Chandu Lai Trivedi who had 
been Secretary of War Department for three years during the 
Second World War was invited to serve on the AFRC. A 
strong plea for preserving the unity of undivided Indian Army 
"came from the Indian officers, whose members, the 
brigadiers, earnestly represented the case for a combined 
army, serving both dominions". Brigadier Cariappa then felt 
that It would take at least five years before we could do 
without British officers Field Marshal Auchinleck was of the 
view that it would take 5-1 0 years to divide the Indian Army 

The Army, Navy and the Air Force were the three Sub- 
committees under the AFRC. Deputy Chief of General Staff 
Major General S.F. Irwin was Chairman of the Army Sub- 
Committee with Brigadiers K.M. Cariappa, S B.S Chimni, 
K S. Thimayya and N A.M. Raza as members, amongst others, 
with Lieutenant Colonel G G Bewoor as Secretary from the 
Indian side The first meeting of this Sub-Committee was held 
on 1 July 1947 and it was dissolved on 30 November 1947.^° 

Delhi & East Punjab Command with its FJead quarters at 
Delhi was established in September 1 947 Major General Sir 
Dudley Russel, KBE, CB, DSO, MC, General Officer 
Commanding 5 Indian Division, who along with his Division 
had returned to Ranchi a few months earlier from Allied 
Forces occupation duties in Japan, was appointed the first 
General Officer Commandmg-in-Chief of the new Command. 
In this connection it should be noted that the Punjab 
Emergency Act conferred wide powers of search and arrest 
on the Indian Army. 

The division of Defence establishments of undivided 
India unfortunately resulted in a completely step motherly 
treatment right from day one to what came to be "Army 
Headquarters India". Pakistan Army Headquarters under its 
novy Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant General Sir Frank 




146 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Messervy, KCSI, KBE, DSO established itself in the premises 
of erstwhile Headquarters Northern Command of undivided 
India It started funct Dning quite effectively at Rawalpindi 
without any loss of ime because of the existing command 
and control infrasL ucture facilities built in the old 
headquarters Army Headquarters India had just no place to 
park themselves in to get their act together, none whatsoever 
really, although this was the most important military 
headquarters in so far as the national and military interests of 
India was concerned in the wake of Pakistani designs in 
Jammu and Kashmir The newly formed Supreme Command 
Headquarters was in location in the Army Headquarters of 
undivided India And that was a Joint Command 
Headquarters, not the Indian Army Headquarters The 
existing command set up, communications systems, offices 
etc, all were under the control of the Supreme Command 
Headquarters Army Headquarters India was thus left high 
and dry to fend for itself They were asked to establish 
themselves in the old Red Fort that was most unsuitable for 
any such organisation 

Communications are the lifeline of command and control 
in a military organisation, more so in times of war, or war like 
conditions The new Army Headquarters did not have that 
facility in any real sense Army Headquarters Signal Regiment 
provided full communications support to the Supreme 
Command Headquarters including communications to 
Pakistan Army Headquarters, but none to the Indian Army 
Headquarters' 

The intelligence set up was also in a mess in so far as 
India was concerned With the breakdown of civil 
administration in Punjab, responsibility for all intelligence 
work fell on the ill equipped and ill-staffed Directorate of 
Military Intelligence. Unfortunately, this Directorate, lacking 
in basic intelligence facilities communications, staff and 
intelligence network, was severely restricted in performing its 
role at a time when military information about activities 
across the borders, particularly with regard to Jammu and 



Partition & Independence 


147 


Kashmir were of vital importance to the security of the 
country 

Division of Military Assets 

The Division of military assets of undivided India 
between the two Dominions was another complex and 
difficult problem Like the Boundary Commission, the Army 
too had Its terms of reference laid out for partitioning of the 
Force As of July 1947 the undivided Indian Army comprised 
about 500,000 men An unofficial estimate of the communal 
composition of the Service at this time, in percentages of 
officers and men was 

Hindus 47 8 and 55.7, 

Muslims. 23 7 and 33 8, 

Sikhs 1 7.3 and 7 5, 

Others. 12.2 and 3.0. 


The procedure for division of military assets was finalised 
on 30 June 1947 giving just 45 days for bifurcation of a 
mammoth force of more than 500,000 The basic rule was 2/ 
3"'^ to India and 1/3"'’ to Pakistan, based not on the 
geographical dimensions of the two Dominions but according 
to the geographical-territorial origins of the rank and file 
However, this was easier said than done, more so since 
enlisted men of a large number of fighting units had purely 
Indian origins, and that was not the case for Pakistan, For 
instance, out of a total of 152 infantry battalions in undivided 
India, demobilization after World War II left not a single one 
that was with 100% Pakistani enlisted personnel. There was 
not a single purely Muslim unit. Pakistan's highest 
contribution was 50% in 55 infantry battalions, 75% in six 
and the remainder 91 infantry battalions were either 100%, 
or predominantly Indian in origin. The same was the bottom 
tine in other fighting arms, and the services too.^^ 

The division of the Army on the basis of principle of 2/3"^ 
to India and 1/3'"* to Pakistan gave India a total of 2,80,000 




148 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


personnel of all categories The allocation of combat arms to 
the two Dominions was- - 

* Fifteen infantry regiments including all the Gorkha 
Rifles (1“, 3'’'', 4*^, 5*, 8‘^ and 9**’) making a total of 88 
infantry battalions to India Pakistan got eight infantry 
regiments organised into 33 infantry battalions 

* Thirteen armoured regiments to India, Pakistan's 
share one heavy, three mediums and two light, making 
a total of six armoured regiments 

* Eighteen regiments of artillery, all types to India, 
Pakistan's share two medium, three field, one anti-tank, 
one heavy and one light anti-aircraft making a total of 
eight artillery regiments, plus one survey battery 

* Sixty-one engineer units of all types organised into 
Madras, Bengal and Bombay Engineer Groups to India, 
Pakistan's share 34 units of all types, (major portion of 
original Bengal Group went to Pakistan) 

* About 7,000 all ranks of various trades from the 
Signals to Infdia. Existing static layout in both Dominions 
was left in tact. 


As on 7 ^ November 1947, movement of all the units from 
one Dominion to the other was completed except for one 
infantry battalion from Pakistan to India, and nine engineer 
companies from India to Pakistan. The Muslim contingent 
from the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun moved out in 
November 1947.” 

In so far as the Air Force was concerned, India's share 
came to be six Rghter ^uadrons and one transport squadron 
against Pakistan's' two and one respertively. Pakistan also got 
a flight each of Harvards for cx^mmurvications and Austers for 
Air Observation Posts, and sixteen Tiger Moths for training 
purposes. Itifnay be noted here that although Pakistan Air 
Force did not intervene in th© Kashmir \Afeir with fighter 


Partition & Independence 


749 


aircraft, they claim to have flown 437 sorties dropping 500 
tons of supplies at Bunji, Skardu, Gilgit and Chilas 

From the above it is evident that the division of the 
Armed Forces conferred on India a definite superiority of well 
over two to one But it is an unfortunate fact of history that 
India did not make use of this advantage during the first 
Indo-Pak War (1947-48) to extract a definite favourable 
decision, which it could have, and should have Further, such 
a favourable strategical superiority, both in terms of numbers 
and deployment, has never occurred, and is unlikely to ever 
occur in the foreseeable future. 

Unfortunately, the political leadership of the country, and 
Prime Minister Nehru in particular later in conjunction with 
Mr Krishna Menon, ICS, looked at the armed forces through 
self-tainted coloured glasses. Just about a month before 
Pakistan was to launch the first salvo of first Indo-Pak War, 
"On 16 September 1947, Prime Minister Nehru directed 
strength of the Army should be preferably 1,50,000, but in no 
case beyond 1,75,000 since 'we foresee no military 
threats Couldn't have been more naive* In the same 
token. It might as well be added that while India was fighting 
Its first war, pay and allowances of Indian Commissioned 
Officers were drastically reduced under the New Pay Code 
thereby perpetuating and further accentuating the disparity 
between the Indian and King's Commissioned Officers (ICOs 
and KCIOs), that too in the same Army, of the same Country, 
and in the same theatre of active operations! 

Indian Army in a Ffux 

Since the class composition of sub-units was generally 
based on religious or territorial connections of the soldiers, a 
number of units were in the process of being split, moved to 
the other Dominion, generally to Pakistan for reforming into 
new units for Pakistan Army. However, a small number of 
sub-units were also under move from Pakistan to revert to 
India to join Indian units. For instance, 7 Cavalry which was 
soon to play a highly significant role in the two most 




150 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


important battles fought m the Kashmir Valley — the Battle of 
Shalateng in November 1947 and the Battle of Zojila in late 
1948 — was in the throes of break up and reformation m 
October 1947, just a couple of weeks before being engulfed 
into the main stream of the first Indo-Pak War in Jammu and 
Kashmir. 'B' Squadron of 7 Cavalry, a Punjabi Musalman sub- 
unit, which was in transit from Japan to Ranchi, was to go to 
Pakistan. In its place, the Regiment was to get 'A' Squadron, 
comprising of Jat soldiers, from 6'** Doc Lancers (6'^ Duke of 
Connaught's Own Lancers) from Kohat to be redesignated as 
B Squadron of 7^’’ Cavalry Regiment This latter Squadron 
under the command of Major I.J. Rikhye arrived at Ambala 
only in October 1947 from Kohat in North West Frontier 
Province of Pakistan, having lost its "moorings and traditions" 
to j'oin a new parentage This is just one case out of many, 
quoted here just to illustrate the point. There were numerous 
more sub-units with 100% Indian nationals who were on duty 
in Pakistan territory and were now on the move, bereft of 
their traditional support systems, to Join Indian units and 
formations. 

Such was the state of the Indian Army, the Indian Armed 
Forces, soon after the Partition, a state of complete flux. At 
this point of time, it was an unbalanced Force — 
organisationally, administratively, deployment-wise, and as 
well as in terms of its command structure All the three 
Service Chiefs were British, Chairman of the Defence 
Committee was a British (The Governor General, Lord Louis 
Mountbatten) and so was the Supreme Commander of the 
Joint Defence Council. Most of the senior and sensitive 
appointments^ were held by the British officers, loyalty of 
some, if not most of who was suspect, to say the least, as 
would be evident from tire subsequent narrative The lower 
formations and units were split, under move, trying to find 
their feet, deployed on tasks of civilian nature for which they 
were neither organised nor trained for A large number of 
Indian officers had got accelerated promotions and placed in 
senior positions of command and responsibility for which 


Partition & Independence 


151 


they were ill prepared, and some of them were indeed 
neither fit nor matured for such high positions 

In retrospect, how one wishes if that was all' But it 
wasn't About 75% of officers and men of the Army came 
from Punjab which was embroiled in unparalleled savagery of 
man against man, sinking to depths of ferocity and 
degradation unheard of in human history These men of the 
Army had a fair share of their family problems — kith and kin 
missing, killed, raped and murdered, property looted or 
reduced to ashes Service personnel themselves were 
rendered displaced persons In the face of such adversity, 
morale is bound to be the first casualty A number of officers 
and men had to be away from duty to sort out their family 
problems And the last proverbial straw came with the first 
drastic cut in pay and perks, as a sacrificial compensation m 
celebration of Independence All said and done for 
nationalism and patriotism, this one step by their very own 
government so soon after ushering in of Independence was 
tantamount to hitting the Defence services below the belt 

Indian Army was thus poised for active military 
operations under the most unusual and adverse conditions 
imaginable And to cap it all, the commanding generals and 

senior staff officers — all British could not even visit the 

areas of operations, let alone conduct the same, because of 
the policy decision taken by the British Imperial Government 
in London They were thus required to perform their duties 
through remote controj only, a most unsatisfactory situation 
to fight any war even under the most favourable of 
conditions Again, that was not alP The Service Chiefs of the 
two soon-to-be warring nations were in constant regular 
telephonic contact which facility existed for some senior 
British staff officers too Therefore, the possibility of leakage 
of operational information at least inadvertently could not be 
ruled out Indeed, it was a distinct possibility 




752 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


NOTES & REFERENCES 

1 Harnam Singh, "Kashmir and the Indian Polity" — article repro- 
duced in "The Story of Kashmir Yesterday and Today", Volume I, 
edited by Verinder Grover, Deep & Deep Publications, New 
Delhi, 1995, pp 130, 142 

2 Ibid, p 142 

3 Chibber M L, Lieutenant General, "Pakistan's Criminal Folly in 
Kashmir", Manas Publications, New Delhi, 1998, pp 57-58 

4 It IS of interest that the first thought of dividing India on commu- 
nal lines was first put forward by Bhai Parmanand Chibber in a 
small booklet in 1923 followed in 1924 by a few articles by Lala 
Lajpat Rai published in The Tribune of Punjab It was much later 
that some Muslim thinkers put forward the concept of Two-Nation 
Theory and creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims to be 
called Pakistan However, ironically, the largest number of Muslims 
continue to be in India, the second segment is in Bangladesh and 
the smallest one is in Pakistan' — Chibber M L , op cit , pp 47- 
49 

5 lbid,p 45 

6 Lord Mountbatten announced the Partition Plan at a memorable 
press conference in New Delhi on 4* June 1947 At the end of the 
conference, an Indian newsman asked him the date of transfer of 
power But the Viceroy had not, in fact, picked a date However, 
he was convinced that only a few weeks remained between India 
and chaos Suddenly he thought of a date so linked in his memory 
to the most triumphant hours of his own existence, that his deci- 
sion was instantaneous His voice constricted with sudden emo- 
tion, the victor of the jungles of Burma announced "The final 
transfer of power will take place on August 15, 1947" — Larry 
Collins Dominique Lapierre, "Freedom at Midnight" 

7 Similar "other factors" guided the Commission in its award on 
Ferozepur and Zira tehsris in Punjab while Chittagong Hill Tracts in 
Bengal was awarded to Pakistan although it was a non-Muslim ma- 
jority area 



Partition & Independence 


153 


8 Karan Singh, "Heir Apparent An Autobiography", Vol I, OUR 
New Delhi, 1982, revised edn 1984, pp 13 & 37-40 

9 Bhattacharjea, "Kashmir The Wounded Valley", UBS Publishers' 
Distributors, New Delhi, 1994, p 99 

10 Ibid p 101 

1 1 Karan Singh, op cit p 48 

12.Riza Shaukat, Major General, "The History of Pak Army 1947- 
1949", Natraj Publishers, Dehradun, First Indian Edition 1997, 
p 265 

13 Tendulkar DC , "Mahatma Gandhi", Vol VIII, Publications Divi- 
sion, Government of India, New Delhi, 1954, p 123 

14 Sen L P, DSO, Lieutenant General, "Slender Was the Thread 
Kashmir Confrontation 1947-48", Orient Longman, New 
Delhi,1 969/1 994; p 36 

15 Brahma Singh K. Major, "History of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles 
(1820-1956)", Lancers International, New Delhi, 1990, pp 221- 
224. 

16 General Sir Frank Messervey, KCSI, KBE, DSO, was commis- 
sioned in the Hudson Horse of Indian Cavalry m 1913 He com- 
manded 13 Lancers in 1938-39 In North Africa and Burma he 
commanded 4 and 7 Indian Divisions 

1 7. General Sir Douglas Gracey was commissioned in 1914 and 
commanded 20 Indian Division in Burma during the Second 
World War in Burma. 

18 Irwin S.F, Major General, "The Indian Army in Partition", as 
quoted by Lieutenant General S L Menezes, "The Indian Army", 
Viking, New Delhi, 1993; p 422 Major General Irwin was the 
Deputy Chief of General Staff and was the Chairman of the Army 
Sub-Committee (Major General Shaukat Riza of Pakistan Army 
gives his initials as S.E ) 

1 9.Riza Shaukat Major General, Op. at pp. 120-21 
20 Ibid, pp 1 30-33 




154 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


21 Robert Trumbull, New York Times 29 July 1947, quoted by 
Lome J Kavic in "India's Quest for Security Defence Policies 
1947-65", EBD Publishers, Dehradun 1967, p 82 

22 Sen L P, op at pp 25-26 

23 Riza Shaukat, op cit pp 136, and 307 

24 Madan Vijay Lieutenant General, "Jammu and Kashmir Opera- 
tions, 1947-48 The Other Version", US I Journal, July-September 
1992, pp 302-303 

25 Menezes S L Lieutenant General, op at p446 

26 Proudfoot C L , Lieutenant Colonel, "We Lead" History of the 
7‘'’ Light Cavalry, 1784-1990, Lancer International, New Delhi, 
1991 


* 5 ^ 

THE RAIDERS RAID 


state Forces on the Eve of Indian Independence 

Right from the start of the Second World War, there was a 
perceptible thaw in the relations between Maharaja Sir Han 
Singh and the British Governments, both in India and in the 
United Kingdom Two battalions of the State Forces, 2 JAK 
Infantry and 4 JAK Infantry, were placed at the disposal of the 
British Imperial Government by the Maharaja ’ These 
Battalions served the British with distinction At the same 
time other units of the State Forces continued to assist the 
British Indian Government in military duties in the NWFP as 
hithertofore, thereby relieving some of the British Indian 
Army units for active service duties in other theatres of the 
Great War 

No wonder therefore that "The war years also saw the 
growing importance of the Maharaja with the British 
Government He gave unstinted help to, and placed all his 
resources at the disposal of the Government of India in their 
prosecution of the War Consequently, he was appointed to 
the Imperial War Cabinet and in this capacity toured the 
Allied Front in the Middle East 

At the end of Second World War, J & K State Forces 
Headquarters at Badami^ Bagh Cantonment m Srinagar was 
directly under command of the Maharaja There was no 
General Staff as such, but the Army Headquarters did have 
an Adjutant General and a Quarter Master General A retired 
British Officer, Major General H L Scott, CB, DSO, MC was 




156 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


the Chief of Staff through whom the Maharaja exercised his 
command The State Forces were organised into four 
brigades- 

* lammu Brigade: Headquarters at Jammu 

Cantonment JAK Training Battalion and Bodyguard Cavalry 
less one squadron at Jammu Cantonment 5 JAK Battalion, 
half Dogra half Muslim, with sub-units deployed from Kathua 
to Bhimber along the southern border 


* Kashmir Brigade: Headquarters, JAK Training School 
and one squadron Bodyguard Cavalry all located at Badami 
Bagh Cantonment- 4' JAK Battalion, half Dogra half Muslim, at 
Domel with one company at Kohala and one company north 
of Tithwal at Keren. 

6 JAK Battalion, half-Sikh half-Muslim, at Bunji in 
Baltistan with detachments at Leh, Skardu and Kargil. 

7 JAK Battalion, all Dogra, at Srinagar, in reserve 

• Mirpur Brigade: Headquarters at Dharmsala 
Jhangar 2 JAK Battalion, half Gorkha half Muslim, at 
Naushera with sub-units deployed on border posts. 

3 JAK Battalion, half Gorkha half Muslim, at Mirpur 


* Poonch Brigade: Headquarters at Poonch. 1 JAK 
Battalion, all Dogras, deployed in border posts/detachments 
in Bagh area. 

8 JAK Battalion, all Dogras, at Poonch 

9 JAK Battalion, all Dogras, deployed in detachments in 
Rawalkot area 


These four Brigades between them had only eight infantry 
battalions Medium Machine Guns were an integral part of an 
infantry battalion as opposed to the Indian Army where the 
MMGs were organised into separate battalions of Mahar 



The Raiders Raid 


157 


Regiment and attached to the brigades/battalions on as 
required basis like other supporting arms. As for supplies, the 
State Forces were dependent on local contractors For arms, 
ammunition and military stores and equipment, the State 
Forces were dependent on "arsenals" in the undivided Indian 
Army's Northern Command with headquarters at Rawalpindi 

The total post-war strength of the State forces was 
approximately 12,000 all ranks, equivalent in infantry 
strength to an infantry division, but without the necessary fire 
power of artillery, and other supporting arms like the 
engineers and signals as an organised set-up, as well as the 
support services. In addition, a number of Garrison Police 
companies raised from amongst the Gorkhas, Kangra Rajputs 
and Sikh ex-servicemen were deployed to reinforce the State 
Forces troops all along the 500-mile border with Pakistan 
These Police units were armed with obsolete rifles/guns and 
were posted in small detachments all along the Pakistani 
Punjab border 

From the foregoing it is evident that the State Forces were 
suffering from a number of infrastructural constraints. 
However, the deficiency of mountain batteries, which were 
transferred to the Indian Army in 1942, was the most serious 
as a result of which the infantry of the State Force was totally 
devoid of artillery fire support ^ "The other problem facing 
the Army was ammunition. Since the cessation of supply of 
ammunition from Pakistan, the Army had been eating into its 
reserves, and unless the reserves were replenished 
immediately the State Troops were soon to have nothing to 
fight with. Consequently the Indian Government was 
approached for help and an indent for arms, ammunition and 
other military equipment which included that required for 
raising two mountain batteries was serjt to Delhi on 1 
October 1947 through Lieutenant Colonel Bhagwan Singh, 
who had been recalled to service for raising the artillery 
units. The despatch of ammunition and weapons is believed 
to have been stalled by the British staff officers holding key 
positions at Army Headquarters in New Delhi 



158 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


The class composition of the State Force and intrinsic 
disloyalty of practically the entire Muslim elements of the 
Force was the greatest handicap from which the State Army 
was suffering — more on this later 

The Raiders 

The very looks of a Pathan used to instill a fear psychosis 
amongst the people of Punjab plains, especially amongst the 
Hindus, physically the weaker but financially and 
intellectually the stronger community. The tribesman from 
trans-Durand Line Frontiers is a tall, well built haughty man 
with an imposing sort of aggressive personality He was 
extremely poor, backward in education and civilization He 
would fight for anything, any cause whatsoever is good 
enough to fight for. And for Islam, most certainly. If he gets 
the scent of a fight anywhere, he will rush straight into it, 
heedless of the consequences, and nothing can stop him 
from doing so A rifle and a dagger are part of his powerful 
build And that was all! His fighting efficiency was a 
misplaced reaction to his aggressive appearance, a fallacy, all 
the more so because of his unreliability in active battle 
conditions. No wonder therefore that the British were shy of 
enlisting the Pathans to fight their wars, at home or overseas 
This cautious attitude of the British administrations over a 
long period of time was based on solid grounds of 
experience, which was further reinforced in the Second 
World War when an Afridi battalion had to be disarmed and 
allotted the role of a labour battalion because of their lack of 
trustworthiness and soldierly qualities. Looks and build alone 
do not make a good soldier. Good as scouts and irregulars, 
but certainly not as regular army material. 

During the British regime in Northwest Frontier areas, as 
a matter of .policy, tribesmen from west of Durrand Line were 
not allowed to cross to the eastern side. And whenever they 
did, they had to first surrender their arms at the border 
check-post, and collect the on their return only. These 

Mahsuds, Wazirs, Afridis, Mohmands ana many tribal 



The Raiders Raid 


159 


clansmen of the rugged mountains were good at attacking 
and fighting only isolated bodies of troops, or ill trained easy 
going soldiers The British fought numerous battles against 
them and established many cantonments and forts to contain 
them These cantonments and forts were garrisoned largely 
by Indian troops 

While the British had refrained from enlisting these 
tribesmen for a couple of centuries, the newly independent 
Pakistanis, within a couple of weeks of their attaining power, 
recruited these very tribesmen, organised and armed them to 
be used as "liberators" of Jammu and Kashmir, of which 
name most of them had not even heard of And Pakistani 
establishment did not do this for the love of the tribals The 
British had a lifetime problem of controlling these people and 
administering their lands. Now they were a problem child of 
the new Government of Pakistan, more so since they had 
acquired 5,000 licensed firearms just before Partition in 
addition to thousands of locally made rifles. The Qabailis- 
problem was further compounded for Pakistan by territorial 
claims put forth by Afghanistan to parts of NWFP, coupled 
with their emotionally attractive appeal of kinship to Pak 
Pathans for formation of an enlarged Pan -Afghanistan under a 
Pathan king. This Pathanisation movement was a serious 
security risk for the nascent State of Pakistan The 
Government of Pakistan with direct complicity of the British 
resolved this thorny problem with one stroke, by resorting to 
tribal invasion of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.® 

The Qabaihs themselves were also completely surprised. 
After centuries of confinement within the bounds of their 
bleak rugged mountains, they were suddenly welcomed in 
Peshawar and provided with arms, ammunition, equipment, 
and lorries to carry them, laced with wild promises of loot, 
booty and women to be brought back home in their own 
transport And of course they came, soon the trickle became 
a flood. 

The raiders came from various tribes and clans. There 
were experienced fighters like Wazirs and Mahsuds from 




760 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Wazirastan, Afridis from Tirah, and the not so well 
experienced Mohmands. The weapons, which they brought, 
were of varied assortment — British, French, German and of 
course what was popularly known as Frontier Rifle, the locally 
manufactured staple of the area. A part of the first 
consignment of 4,000 army rifles which Colonel Akbar Khan, 
DSO, managed to "secretly release" (!) to the police for 
onward distribution to the tribesmen found their way to 
unauthorised hands for illegal sale at almost ten times the 
price of a Frontier rifle. In their place the tribesman received 
the inferior quality local variety which was otherwise an exact 
replica of the military rifle Their transport was also equally 
heterogeneous. They had no uniforms, nor any organised 
supply system, at least not in the initial stages of their 
operations, all typical of the irregular forces, which suited 
their purpose ideally. They were perpetually short of 
ammunition, since at least half of the ammunition released to 
them found its way to black market in the Frontier areas' And 
one cannot blame the tribesmen for this sort of thing, they 
did not receive any regular pay. Their only source of income 
was whatever they could scrounge or loot and send back 
home for sale. That indeed was their wages! 

These tribesmen formed one category of personnel that 
came to be called raiders in Kashmir The second were the 
armed locals of Mirpur-Poonch area, ex-servicemen or 
volunteer militia-men who were motivated by' the call of 
religion from across the border to defend their own homes 
and hearths following the communal conflagration. These 
loose bodies of men were stiffened by the third category of 
men — Pak regular army personnel as volunteers, on leave or 
absent without leave (AWOL) with full pay and allowances 
looking out for some adventure, honours and awards. The 
fourth category was Muslim deserters from the Jammu and 
Kashmir State 'Forces who joined the enemy ranks with their 
weapons and equipment 


The Raiders Raid 


767 


The Raiders Start Raiding 

Communal riots and harrowing tales of savage orgies 
started all over Punjab soon after Jmnah announced his 
"Direct Action" plan in 1946, resulting in an influx of Hindu 
and Sikh refugees from across the border into the State 
territory The fall of Khizr Hiyat Ministry in Punjab in March 
1947 added fuel to the fire, and 14 August 1947, 
Independence Day of Pakistan was the last proverbial straw 
when all hell broke loose in the districts of Jhelum and 
Gujranwala adjoining the State, besides of course in the rest 
of the two halves of Punjab. This gave rise to numerous raids 
of varying intensity from the Pakistani Punjab into the State 
territory all along its border. In other words, Pakistani inspired 
and organised raids started territorial infringement of the 
State well before even the official birth of the new Dominion. 
These initial raids took place mostly on the Jhelum front 
when thousands of traumatized homeless Hindus and Sikh 
fleeing for their lives from Rawalpindi and Jhelum districts 
were chased across River Jhelum by pursuing armed groups 
some of whom were in Pakistani Army uniforms. The riots in 
Oghi area of Black Mountains in Hazara district were the 
most savage where atrocities on the hapless people reached a 
crescendo sending streams of refugees over the Hill- Begam 
Ferry into Mirpur district As already noted, the entire border 
region from Chichian to Manawar had already become 
sensitive with the Poonch Rebellion gaining in momentum. 
The general situation had become extremely grave with the 
local Muslim population conniving with Pakistani agents 
provocateurs spreading poisonous propaganda including 
provocative posters, leaflets amongst the gatherings in 
mosques inciting social and communal unrest. 

River Jhelum, which formed the natural boundary of the 
State with Pakistan from Kohala in the north to Mangla in the 
south, could be easily crossed at numerous points where 
regular ferries used to operate. In order to arrest further 
Pakistani infiltration into the State, as a first step, with effect 
from 4*^ September, all boats that came to the eastern bank of 




762 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


the river were captured and destroyed, after payment of 
compensation to the ferrymen 

As they reached the border, the Hindus and Sikhs had to 
be protected from t. eir pursuers, fed organised and led to 
safety towards destinations of their choice Similarly, Muslim 
refugees going into opposite direction had to be protected 
and given safe passage 

Colonel Akbar Khan, DSO, was Director Weapons & 
Equipment at General Headquarters Pakistan. It was he who 
had taken the initiative in setting the ball rolling for the raids 
which, in course of time, were to graduate into a full-fledged 
invasion of the State Again, it was Akbar Khan who had 
formulated the basic plan under the title of "Armed Revolt 
Inside Kashmir" and was the moving spirit behind organising, 
equipping, and financing the "Raids" in Kashmir This subject 
was exercising his mind even before the Partition. In 
anticipation of the events yet to unfold,® while he was in 
General Headquarters (India), he had withdrawn large 
quantity of maps of Jammu and Kashmir from the Survey of 
India. He was taken off his Army job and was appointed 
Military Adviser to the Prime Minister thereby ruffling many 
feathers, since a large number of officers senior to him were 
waiting in the wings for a prestigious appointment of this 
nature Soon after the "Mother of All Raids" was launched in 
the Valley, Akbar Khan assumed command of all major 
operations, especially in the Valley under the grandiose 
pseudonym of "General Tariq" In this connection it may be 
recalled that initially, Mr. Zaman Kiani was to be in charge of 
operations from across the Punjab Border and Mr. Khurshid 
Anwar, a commander of Muslim League National Guards was 
in command of the Sector north of Rawalpindi 

*By this time, 2 JAK Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel 
Abdul Hamid Khah'was deployed in penny pockets at Owen 
Pattan, Saligram, Rajauii’, KotH, Ban Bridge and Sensa with 
the Battalion headquarters and one company at Naushera 
Similarly, 3 JAK Battalion under ‘Lieutenarvt Colonel Puran 


The Raiders Raid 


163 


Singh Thapa was thinly spread over Hill-Begam, Mangla Fort, 
Chachian, Jatley-Alibeg with the Battalion headquarters and 
rest of the sub-units at Mirpur 

"The first major 'guerilla' incident occurred in Bagh 
tehsil on 27 August, when Jemadar Khurd Singh and four 
State Forces signalers were kidnapped by a Muslim crowd, 
bound hand and foot and thrown into the Mahal river Two 
days later, the Sikh gurudwara at Ali Beg was threatened by a 
big Muslim gathering" although a Gorkha platoon was posted 
there for the specific purpose of protection of the 
Gurudwara ® 

In Bagh-Poonch area, more tribesmen reinforced the 
Poonch Rebellion. "Tons from the Kurram, a Lashkar from 
Dir, Zadarans and even Tajiks from Afghanistan and Ghilzais 
perhaps formed the largest part."’° 

Some time after the first wave of raids had started m the 
southern sector of the State, Maharaja of Patiala visited 
Srinagar in July 1947 As a consequence of personal 
relationship between the two Maharajas, one infantry 
battalion, the 1®* Patiala Infantry, and one battery of mountain 
artillery from the Patiala State Forces arrived in Jammu and 
Kashmir during the first fortnight of October 1947. 

Desertions & Treachery 

On the night of 15/16 October 1947, a large party of 
raiders laid siege to Tharochi Fort^’ where two companies of 
2 JAK Battalion, one Gorkha and one Muslim had taken 
refuge after fighting in Owen-Sensa area. The raiders were 
wearing distinctive mazri shirts, a hallmark of the tribesmen, 
or were in Pak O.G. uniforms. Brigadier Chhattar Singh in 
command of the Mirpur Brigade ordered his Brigade Major 
(BM), Major Nasarullah Khan to take two platoons of 3 JAK 
Battalion to deliver supplies and ammunition to the garrison 
in the Fort. On the way, he also assumed command of two 
companies sent earlier to relieve the besieged garrison. Fie 
deployed the Muslim Company on perimeter defence duty 


764 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


outside the Fort and gave time off to the Gorkhas to rest, 
which was most welcome after the previous actions and 
hardships Major Nasarullah Khan then called a meeting of all 
Muslim officers and JCOs and hatched a plan to eliminate the 
non-Muslim elements of the Force. During the night, the 
Muslim Company butchered the sleeping Gorkhas It was the 
worst kind of treachery, a cold-blooded murder of 
unsuspecting compatriots The Gorkha Company 
Commander, Captain Prem Singh was strangled to death by 
Muslim "brother officers" of his own Battalion Two Gorkha 
JCOs and 30 Other Ranks (OR) managed to escape the 
massacre and fled to J hangar to report the incident Next day, 
Major Nasarullah Khan led the Muslim troops to Tharochhi 
Fort where the garrison, blissfully ignorant of the 
developments of the night before, and unaware of what was 
to befall them soon, received the relieving column with joy. 
And at night, the unsuspecting Gorkhas were all murdered in 
a ghastly repeat performance. Their commander, "Captain 
Raghubir Singh Thapa was tortured to death 

A large well-armed force of raiders attacked Bhimber- 
Munawar area on 18/19 October and again on the 27*^''. In 
this instance, the attacking force was supported by tanks and 
mechanized vehicles Bhimber fell to the enemy on the 29*. 
The time period of this particular action highlights the level of 
planning and coordination between various sectors in which 
Pak Forces had suddenly become over active This just goes 
to prove — since proof was very much required at that point 
of time even though it is completely irrelevant at this point of 
time — that Pak Army contingents were in the forefront at a 
very early stage of the hostilities. 

Rajauri was a small town whose population was mostly 
Hindu business corhmunFty. It was garrisoned by two platoons 
of 2 JAK Battalion, one Gorkha and the other Dogra. During 
October 1947, this town was invested by the Muslim 
elements of the town aided in targe measure by their co- 
religionists from the nearby rural areas ar>d reinforced by tfw 
Qabailis. The smalt beleaguered garrison tveld otit against 



The Raiders Raid 


765 


repeated attacks but finally capitulated on 1 1 November 
1947 resulting in the usual orgy of loot, killings, abductions 
and rape which was the "Standard Operating Procedure" 
adopted by the enemy in all such cases Major Angrez Singh 
with two platoons of troops from the Training Battalion at 
Jammu managed to extricate the inhabitants and succeeded 
in rescuing many thousands from the clutches of sure torture 
and death But the Garrison Commander, Subedar Major 
Bhim Singh was killed in action 

Mangla Fort was of considerable civil and military 
significance in as much as the headworks of the Upper 
Jhelum Canal were located there Its importance also lay in 
the Fort's temple dedicated to Goddess Durga, the 
Regimental Deity, on whom the 'War Cry' of the Regiment is 
based — "Durga Mata ki Jai" And the Fort had a Gurudwara 
too. One platoon of 3 JAK Battalion was posted there for 
general duties On 7'’’ November 1947 an old woman sought 
admission in the Fort She was carrying two letters, one for 
Jemadar Khajoor Singh and the other for the Zaildar, Girdhari 
Lai, one in Urdu and the other in English sent by Captain 
Mohammed Azam of the State Forces asking the garrison 
commander, Jemadar Khajoor Singh to surrender. 

By this time Mangla Fort garrison had been under siege 
for some weeks and was low on ammunition, but had plenty 
of gunpowder and a stock of muzzleloaders of ancient 
vintage. The situation had become so grave that the garrison 
commander decided to accept the risk of using these guns to 
fire pebbles on the enemy, perhaps the only instance of such 
desperation in recent military history. By ZS'** November, the 
situation inside the Fort had become quite unbearable The 
enemy had sealed all routes of withdrawal. The small garrison 
under a valiant JCO had held on for one month and 20 days 
against heavy odds when it capitulated to overwhelming 
enemy strength. As was customary for the raiders and the 
erstwhile comrades in arms, loot, arson, torture and death 
was the only fate that awaited the garrison and the civilians in 
the Fort 




166 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Kotli, like Rajauri was a predominantly. Hindu business 
community prosperous town situated on the Mirpur - Poonch 
'forward' road. About 300 hostiles had occupied all the 
heights around the town The besieged garrison of 9 JAK 
Battalion was attacked on night 16/17 November by a strong 
enemy force numbering about 3,000 supported by MMGs 
and mortars. One Muslim platoon commander posted on a 
tactical feature for defence of the town defected to the 
enemy prior to the main attack The State Forces garrison 
repulsed the attack despite being heavily outnumbered, and 
200 enemy dead left behind were counted on the littered 
battlefield 

One Sher Tamroz with a mixed force of local Muslims 
and Qabailis surrounded the small State Forces garrison at 
Jhangar on Naushera- Mirpur Road This place was 
administratively a good campsite with plenty of water The 
garrison here held on for many weeks against numerous 
enemy assaults, which lacked punch Fortunately for the Kotli 
garrison, 50 Para Brigade’^ under Brigadier Y.S. Paranjpye 
reached Jammu on 28 October 1947, just one day after India 
intervened militarily to save Srinagar by airlifting the first 
fighting contingent. But this Brigade came with only one 
infantry battalion — and that too considerably under strength 
3 Rajput commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Dharam Pal 
had only six officers and 460 Other Ranks while its second 
battalion, 1“ Punjab joined only on 13'*’ November 
Fortunately, the Brigade had one Company of Mahar MGs 
and got 1* Patiala Infantry in location — this Battalion having 
been sent earlier by the Maharaja of Patiala as a gesture of 
friendly assistance. These troops relieved the Jhangar garrison 
on 19 November. The next day, the relief column 
commenced dieir advance to Kotli, which was relieved on 
27‘*' November — havinjg faced numerous enemy assaults 
during a siege lasting six weeks. Xfter evacuating about 900 
refugees, the refief colUfrtn withdrew to Jhangar on 28'^ 
November, and thereafter to Jammu 


The Raiders Raid 


167 


The above pattern of operations by Indian Army in the 
Jammu Region leaves a lingering impression that they were 
fighting on an ad-hoc basis without a coherent plan 

The raiders captured Bhimber on 29 October 1947 
followed by Mendhar on 3''' November. They pushed out the 
State Forces garrison from Bagh to Poonch on 9“' November 
and captured Rajauri on the 11 with another success against 
Mirpur garrison on the 25'*’ — all in quick succession. This 
fast pace of progress was made possible on account of short 
and easy lines of communications from Pakistan to the 
southern borders of the State, besides of course sound 
planning and competent leadership Thus, while attention 
was riveted on the Valley, a grave situation was developing on 
the southern borders of the State whence the hostiles were 
heading towards Jammu itself. However, as a palliative, one 
thousand rifles were sent to Paranjpye for raising Home 
Guards from amongst the ex-servicemen in the region west of 
Akhnur, to assist the locals in resisting the raiders 

By now the reader would have noticed a persistent trend 
amongst Muslim officers and men of the State Forces, who 
had otherwise served the Regiment with loyalty and 
distinction for a long period of time, to revert to desertion 
and treachery at the first opportunity. Unfortunately, there 
were numerous more such occasions all over the State when 
these renegades stabbed their Dogra, Gorkha and Sikh 
colleagues in the back. Cold blooded murder of sleeping 
unsuspecting comrades in arms at night. Torture and killing of 
brother officers in the mess premises. Unfortunately, in the 
changed communal equations, this tragic breakdown of 
espirit de corps and military camaraderie became second 
nature with the Muslim component of the State Force all over 
the State. 

Indian military forces intervened in the Kashmir Valley on 
27 >h October 1947 Their successful repulsion of the initial 
invasion by Pakistan has generally overshadowed the fact that 
their poor cousins of the State Forces had been fighting the 


168 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


enemy raiders as well as their own Muslim comrades in arms, 
organised and led by Pakistani military officers including 
those of the erstwhile INA, right from the middle of July 
1947, and in some cases still earlier too. These brave men — 
Dogras, Gorkhas and Sikhs — had been fighting against heavy 
odds. The terrain, climate, communications, armaments, 
supplies, numerical strength, et al, were all stacked high 
against these small isolated garrisons commanded by junior 
leaders with extremely limited resources, with practically no 
help or a word of cheer from the higher ups 

A sizeable chunk of rural population in Jammu region was 
hostile to the administration, more so towards the State 
Forces in particular. Military intelligence was non-existent; 
there was no network at all, let alone a reliable one. To 
compound the all round adverse situation, their own 
compatriots turned against them on grounds of religion, 
always at the most inopportune moments of vagaries of battle 
turning the scales against them. Yes, they fought alone. 
Initially, soon to be joined in strength by the Indian Army and 
the Indian Air Force. 

The raids from across the border were not limited only to 
the southwestern parts of the State in the Mirpur-Kotli- 
Rajauri-Naushera sectors, far from it. The raids further up 
North, and treachery of Muslim officers and men against their 
Dogra-Corkha-Sikh compatriots in the Domel-Muzzaffarabad 
sector was no less diabolical. 

One more striking factor that emerges from the above 
narrative is that the State Forces troops together with the 
Garrison Felice companies were strung out in an arc all along 
the State borders, in penny pockets. Nothing was left to 
protect die heartland, and no reserves at all in the hands of 
the Chief Staff or the Maharaja whereby they could influence 
any situation. 9 JAK Battalion, which was m reserve at 
Srinagar/ had already been committed in Poonch sector. It is 
not that the higher authorities were not aware of this lacuna, 
they Just did not have the resources to face the situation 



The Raiders Raid 


169 


squarely They just did not have any more troops in the kitty, 
nor were they designed, organised or equipped to fight a 
regular war at such a large scale over such dispersed locartions 
against so superior an enemy 

PRE-ACCESSION DEVELOPMENTS 

Mian Iftikharuddin, educated at Oxford, owner of the 
Pakistan Times and a scion of a wealthy family of West 
Punjab having leftist leanings visited Srinagar in August- 
September 1947 to establish contacts with Kashmiri leaders 
with a view to secure their assistance in Pakistani attempts for 
accession of the State. Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) A S B. 
Shah, Joint Secretary Foreign Affairs of the Government of 
Pakistan also visited Srinagar on 8*'’ October 1947 as an 
emissary of Mr Mohammed Ah Jinnah, the Governor General 
of Pakistan. He brought a blank Form of Accession for 
signature of the Maharaja. He also met the new Prime 
Minister, Mr. Mehr Chand Mahajan but Major Shah had to 
return a disappointed man when discussions became rather 
acrimonious on the subject of supplies and 'economic 
blockade'. 

Mehr Chand Mahajan on relinquishing his job in the 
Boundary Commission returned to his old job of a judge of 
the High Court of what had now become East Punjab. Soon 
after that, on 18 September 1947 the Maharaja offered him 
the post of Prime Minister of his State. Being a Dogra from 
Kangra, he was a natural choice when R.C Kak became a 
liability in that chair After consultations with Pandit Nehru, 
Sardar Patel, Mr. V.R Menon, the Governor General, and also 
a meeting with Mahatma Gandhi, Mr Mahajan took eight 
months leave of absence from the High Court and finally 
assumed the appointment of Prime Minister on 18 October 
1947, just a few days before a chain of cataclysmic events 
were to break out In the State. Mr. B.L. Batra became his 
Deputy, having assumed the appointment much earlier It 
may be of passing interest to mention that while Sardar Patel 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


170 


was more than happy with Mahajan as the replacement of 
Kak, Pandit Nehru was not at all comfortable with Mahajan 
since the later was rather distrustful of Sheikh Abdullah This 
strain in personal relationship was the primary cause of exit 
of Mahajan as early as March 1948, paving the way for the 
Sheikh to become full-fledged Prime Minister of the State 

The Chief of Staff of the State Forces, Major General 
Scott submitted a note to the Maharaja on 22 September 
1947 He summed up the overall military situation in the light 
of numerous raids from across the border in Pakistan, 
communal holocaust, the resultant mayhem and its affect on 
the civil population particularly the Hindus and Sikhs The 
grim situation the State would be faced with during the fast 
approaching winter more so in the light of 'economic 
blockade' imposed by Pakistan. The General emphasised the 
extreme urgency of the situation and the grave risks involved. 
"Although General Scott had done nothing which could have 
been termed a disloyal act, his leanings towards Pakistan, as 
an Englishman must have been all too evident to the 
Maharaja. If nothing else he is known to have given his tacit 
support to an offer of General Sir Douglas Gracey, Chief of 
Staff of the Pakistani Army to establish Pakistani piquets and 
patrols on the roads from Pakistan into the State via Domel 
and Islamabad in order to prevent Pakistani raiders from 
entering the State It is difficult to believe that General Scott 
did not realize that the offer was being made to facilitate the 
planned invasion rather than prevent it Whatever be the 
reasons, soon after submitting his report the General was 
relieved of his duties on 24* September and sent on leave till 
the termination of his term on 1st November. He handed 
over charge to Brigadier Rajinder Singh’® and left for England, 
via Rawalpindi. In fairness to General Scott it must be 
mentioned that, having been the Chief of Staff of the State 
Forces for nearly eleven years, "as a last act of service to the 
State he sent a cryptic message from Rawalpindi on his way 
to England stating that raidprs In their thousands were being 
collected, armed and trained in places like Abbottabad and 



The Raiders Raid 


171 


Nathia Call for the last six months for an invasion of the 
State."'® 

On 29 September 1947, Sheikh Abdullah was released 
from prison after he submitted a letter of apology to the 
Maharaja affirming his loyalty to the Dogra regime Soon after 
that, other leaders of the National Conference were also 
released from prison 

Notwithstanding all the grave developments, the 
Maharaja Sir Han Singh was still indecisive Lord 
Mountbatten had made every possible effort to avoid a 
disaster But the Maharaja continued to be under the evil 
influence of the Raj Guru and as well as his Russian friend. 
He was still dreaming of his kingdom suddenly looming large 
on the world map as the Asian Switzerland, one point, 
perhaps the only point on which he and the Sheikh were in 
complete agreement, albeit for entirely different personal 
reasons, each of his own. In fact, in a meeting between the 
Maharaja, Sheikh Abdullah and Mr. Mehr Chand Mahaj’an 
held about one month after the Accession during which 
Sheikh Abdullah ".. suggested that it would be a very good 
thing If India and Pakistan were made to recognise the State 
as an independent unit like Switzerland .. and the Maharaj'a 
nodded assent"'® Of course, the motives of the two key 
players in this game were entirely contradictory. The 
Maharaja wanted to preserve his Dynasty in perpetuity; 
Sheikh Abdullah was only interested in the welfare of his 
people, the Kashmiris and their Kashminyat. 

In Punjab the Muslim League was supreme and Muslim 
fundamentalism a heady wine But NWFP was different. 
Although the population of this Province was more than 90% 
Muslim, the "Frontier Gandhi" Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and 
his Party always stood for secular democracy. It was a pro- 
Congress province, always in favour of Indian National 
Congress, all through the movement and struggle for 
independence of India. However, when Independence finally 
did come to the country, the "Frontier Gandhi" his people 




Military Plight of Pakistan 


172 


and their province were far removed from the Indian polity 
Unfortunately, being a predominantly Muslim province and 
geographically contiguous to Pakistan, he and his people had 
no option whatsoever. Nonetheless, in accordance with the 
agreements on formation of the two sovereign Dominions, a 
referendum was held in NWFP whether the Province wanted 
to join Pakistan — Yes, or No The Referendum did not 
provide independence as a choice It was held on 6-17 July 
1947 giving a 'yes' vote verdict with a very small margin. 
Notwithstanding an extremely small margin computed in 
favour of Pakistan, Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, the Chief 
Minister of NWFP took more than an active part, a most 
decisive part indeed in recruiting, organising, arming and 
transporting the tribal Lashkars to Punjab, and thence to the 
borders of Jammu and Kashmir State 

It IS of interest here to note that Sir George Cunnigham 
was the Governor of NWFP at this time He was a veteran of 
NWFP service, having earlier served in the Province in 
various capacities. It was almost a lifetime career for him in 
this Province, and no doubt he was aware of the British 
policy not to permit, let alone recruit the tribesmen from 
west of the Durand Line for any serious venture outside. In a 
radical departure from that time tested policy, concentration 
and transportation of thousands of tribesmen in Peshawar 
eastwards could possibly not have been hidden from him. He 
must have known what was cooking, where, and why. Now, 
Sir Cunnigham knew General Sir Rob Lockhart fairly well, 
more so since the latter was his predecessor as Governor of 
NWFR Further, it would also be reasonable to assume that he 
knew the Supreme Commander of the Joint Defence 
Council, Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck as also General 
Sir Frank Messervey, Commander-in-Chief Pak Army; any 
assumption to the contrary cannot possibly withstand the test 
of impartial scrutiny. Then, how come, this gigantic plot of 
inducting thousands upon thousands of well armed and well 
provided tribesmen did not reach thp eyes and ears of the 
Joint Defence Council, nor the British Commanders-rn-Chief 



The Raiders Raid 


173 


of armies of the newly formed Dominions? And even if we 
assume for the sake of argument that these principal British 
actors on the scene were not personally known to each other, 
they were professionally duty bound to communicate vital 
informations to their superiors and colleagues alike One 
cannot therefore escape the conclusion that the entire affair 
was a British plot and conspiracy against India, if not in its 
entirety, then at least with full complicity of the British The 
role of Filed Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck, Supreme 
Commander of Armed Forces of both India and Pakistan is 
most astonishing and deplorable It tantamount to 
professional dishonesty of the most heinous kind, all the 
more so since he, as the neutral person right at the very top 
rung, had complete and free access not only to both the 
Governments and their Armed Forces, but was also in 
constant regular contact with them by telephone, radio, 
courier, etc. No doubt he was the top villain of the piece 

Yet another factor that gives rise to this plot-angle is the 
fact that Colonel Akbar Khan, Military Adviser to the Prime 
Minister of Pakistan, had his headquarters right within the 
premises of Pak Army Headcjuarters, in the same building. 
Therefore, how could General Frank Messervey remain 
Ignorant of what was happening right under his nose in the 
very same building in which he worked every day in and day 
out But he did he not report the matter to his superior 
officer, the Field Marshal. Why not? ... Be that as it may, it is 
on record that at no time before 24 October 1947 did Field 
Marshal Auchinleck draw the attention of the Government of 
India to the extremely serious developments going on for 
over three months by then on the Pakistan-J & K common 
border. The fact is that the British officers were in hand-in- 
glove situation with Pakistani political as well as military 
establishment in so far as the future status of Jammu and 
Kashmir wai$ concerned. Their stance was simply, and totally 
anti'lndia. Of course there were a few notable exceptions 
too, like Lieutenant General Sir Dudley Russel. 


174 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


It was a most extraordinary situation indeed, at least in so 
far as India was concerned. 

THE MOTHER OF ALL RAIDS 

The ushering in of Independence brought in its wake 
numerous administrative problems of mind boggling 
magnitude and complexity. The Indian political leadership 
was deeply immersed in tackling the day to day problems 
arising out of the communal holocaust as well as the 
upheavals resulting from transmigration of population on an 
unimaginable scale, together with the complexities of 
numerous princely states They hardly had the time or the 
inclination to pay attention to what was underway in 
Pakistan, or what mischief(s) the new leaders of that country 
were upto. On top of that, "the usual all pervading attitude of 
moral superiority and rectitude shrouded the Indian thinking 
to the complete exclusion of any evil designs, not even by the 
devil"! 

Enemy Intelligence 

The Partition of India and subsequent division of assets 
led to total dislocation of intelligence set-up in so far as India 
was concerned. Mostly the Indian Police Service officers 
manned intelligence Bureau of the Government of' undivided 
India While in most other fields the division of assets and 
resources was being amicably resolved, the Director of 
Intelligence who had opted for service in Pakistan took 
everything with him, lock, stock and barrel And what he 
could not, in the true- to-character- approach of the 
intelligence community, he made sure that it was destroyed, 
destruction in the military intelligence sense, destroyed by 
burning to absolute cinders and dust! The result was that with 
the coming into being of Pakistan on 14 August 1947, she 
had a well-established functioning intelligence service 
whereas India had a mere semblance of it. The Indian set-up 
was mostly on paper only, created after Independence, bbt 
there was nothing concrete by way of intelligence sources. 


The Raiders Raid 


175 


network of agents, information channels, communication 
systems, nor were there any trained staff to sift the gram from 
the chaff, and turn the information into usable intelligence 
resource — collation in military terminology The Indian 
Intelligence Bureau was badly handicapped as it was, more 
so because of complete paralysis of civil administration in 
Punjab 'with the result that all responsibility for all intelligence 
fell on the rather narrow shoulders of the Military Intelligence 
Directorate of Army Headquarters, which itself was trying to 
cope up with Its teething troubles The unfortunate 
consequence of this major deficiency was India's complete 
Ignorance of Pak plans to usurp the State of Jammu and 
Kashmir by means fair, or foul. 

The British hierarchical control of Indian Armed Forces 
further compounded the above situation against India, 
resulting in India's complete ignorance of developments on 
and across, the J & K — Pakistan border. 

Lieutenant General L.P. Sen, DSO, has given a graphic 
description in his Book, 'Slender Was the Thread', of the sad 
state of affairs in the Ml Directorate when he took temporary 
charge of the same as a Colonel All he had was bare 
premises with odd junk strewn around, but nothing of any 
intelligence value The worthy British had destroyed whatever 
they could not take. There was no Indian officer in the 
Directorate in any case. Whatever little tidbits of information 
did come in, these were not properly processed; and if at all 
done, were not made use of. For instance: When the raiders 
attacked Bhimber in Mirpur district on 28/29 October, tanks 
and flame-throwers supported them. Air photos taken by the 
(R) lAF clearly showed tank tracks from Pakistan side and 
across the Jammu-Pak border Obviously, this operation was 
not an amateurish job hurriedly undertaken by mere tribals, 
nor had the British ever equipped the Afridis with tanks and 
flame-throwers! But if one decides to close one's eyes to an 
unpleasant reality, the rational senses take a back seat and 
truth is the first casualty. The reality of Pak regulars in 
uniform, or in civvies on the pretext of being on leave, and 


176 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


the ex-soldiers taking more than active part in the so called 
raids, a euphemism for open invasion, could not have been 
hidden from the British professionals at Delhi But did they 
take cognizance? 

As early as 4* October 1947, Dewan Chaman Lai, M P 
received definite information from his source(s) in Pakistan 
that large scale preparations were afoot to infiltrate tribesmen 
from NWFP with the object of forcibly annexing the State to 
Pakistan. "For this purpose, it had been arranged that army 
personnel from Pakistan would join in these raids, but in 
mufti It was also arranged to place 6,000 gallons of petrol 
(and petrol was strictly rationed in those days so much so that 
not a drop could be obtained without proper government 
sanction) at the disposal of the insurgents, and as much 
ammunition from the Government Ordnance Depot, 
Rawalpindi, as was needed by the insurgents. A total of over 
200 lorries and trucks and buses had been placed at the 
disposal of these insurgents..." Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, 
Chief Minister of NWFP was personally coordinating these 
activities. "The latest date of attack was fixed for 1 8 October 
47" but delayed till 22 October 47.^° 

The above information was passed onto Prime Minister 
Nehru as well as Mr. Batra, the then Deputy Prime Minister 
of the State 

The authorities in Srinagar were so naive in this matter 
that in September 1947, protest notes were sent to the 
Government of Pakistan for the border violations. Their 
naivete was all the more ironical because the Government of 
Jammu and Kashmir had, in the past several occasions sent 
reports of such raids and acts of looting, rape and murder to 
the Government of Pakistan with a request that they curb the 
local mischief mongers in the border areas. In other words, 
the Government of Jarhmu and Kashmir was providing 
intelligence to the Government of Pakistan confirming the 
locations and extents of Pak misadventures’ 



The Raiders Raid 


7 77 


The net result of complete absence or failure of 
intelligence set-up, or non-acceptance for use of whatever 
little information was available, was that Pakistan had 
succeeded in completing its preparations for the invasion of 
the Valley, including subversion of numerous civil and military 
officials, and the rank and file of the State administration as 
well as the State Forces, without the State Government, or for 
that matter even the Government of India having any inkling 
of the sinister design, indeed a grand design in so far as 
Pakistan was concerned. Unfortunately, the intelligence setup 
did not show any appreciable improvement even m the later 
stages of this campaign Mr B.N. Mullik joined the 
Intelligence Bureau in September 1948 as Deputy Director in 
charge of Internal Affairs including Kashmir,^’ and later rose 
to be Its all-powerful Chief. He was a protege of Pandit 
Nehru More often than not, the Bureau produced shameful 
caricatures of half-baked intelligence with a mixture of 
political intrigue to score points, rather than further the 
national agenda. The end product was generally designed to 
please the political superiors, rather than present a 
professionally objective analysis — a trend setting 
development in governance in Delhi for the decades to 
come 

"Operation Gulmarg" : Plans 

Pakistan had set its heart on the Beauty Queen, the Vale 
of Kashmir from Day One — if not still earlier, soon after the 
Partition Plan became a concrete possibility And it brooked 
no delay whatsoever in planning and launching its grand 
design to take control of the Asian Switzerland. 

The initial operational plan was m two phases. First phase 
starting in September 1947 involving numerous small scale 
raids and fifth column activities to shatter the State Forces, to 
be followed by the "Mother of all Raids" in Jhelum Valley at 
an appropriate time in the second half of October 1 947. 

Wide spread fifth column activity was the key to the 
initial plans Agent- provocateurs were inducted in the State 


178 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


and they started functioning as early as June-July 1947 
onwards to subvert the Muslim elements of civil services and 
State Forces, achieving a very large measure of all round 
success The initial sm ill scale raids were the overt military 
part of this " centrally inspired grand design in the pattern 
and timings of the (Uter) larger raids — the aim being to 
keep up military pressure all along the border over a period 
of months in order to draw out the J & K State Forces and 
force them to split up into penny-packet outposts along the 
border. At the same time, the economic blockade ... the 
refusal of the Northern Command in Rawalpindi to continue 
supplies of arms and ammunition and petrol to the J & K 
Army., served further to hamstring the mobility and efficacy 
of the State Forces. This grand design is confirmed by no 
less a writer than Mr. Josef Korbel^^ in his book "Danger in 
Kashmir" when' he says, "Ever since the Maharaja failed to 
meet the time limit of accession, the Pakistan Government 
pursued a policy of coercing him into accession to Pakistan 
... Pakistan applied an economic blockade to coerce her into 
accession ... The postal system did not work, savings and 
postal bank accounts were tied up, postal cheque certificates 
were not cashed and cheques on West Punjab banks were 
not honoured. 

The basic organisational structure of "Op Gulmarg" was 
the Pathan Lashkars. Every Pathan tribe (clan) was required to 
raise one Lashkar of 1,000 tribesmen. The -Deputy 
Commissioners and Political Agents were responsible for 
recruitment. One major, one captain and ten Junior 
Commissioned Officers (JCOs) from regular army were 
attached to each Lashkar. These army personnel were also all 
Pathans, to dress amj live like all other members of the 
Lashkar, On paper, fj^e-major was to act as 'adviser' to the 
'Malik' who was nominally in command of his Lashkar, but 
the ma|or was the d© f&do- commander of the Lashkar while 
the captain was his staff officer and the JCOs commanded the 
companies or groups, each about 100, strong. Colonel (later 
Major Genera^ Aik^ar Khan, DSO, with the self-assumed ptjq 



The Raiders Raid 


179 


of "General Tariq" was in overall command of the force. 
Brigadier Sher Khan was to assist him and was sort of Liaison 
Officer for Pak Army with the Task Force Their headquarters 
were in the same building in Rawalpindi as the Pak Army 
Commander-in-Chief 

After enlistment, the Lashkars were required to 
concentrate at Bannu, Wana, Peshawar, Kohat, Thai and 
Nowshera by first week of September 1947 The Brigade 
Commanders of these locations were required to issue arms 
and ammunition to the Lashkars and help in equipping and 
organising them These were to be issued from the various 
Ordnance installations first to the Army units and then 
through them to the Lashkars They were armed with light 
machineguns, medium machine guns, Boyes' anti-tank rifles, 
besides the usual .303 rife as the basic weapon of course. 
The regular army officers and JCOs drawn from Frontier 
Forcq Regiments/Rifles were to join their respective Lashkars 
at these locations. All Lashkars were required to concentrate 
at Abbottabad by October 1947 in a specially demarcated 
and protected security zone about 10 miles outside the town. 
Once in the security zone, no body was allowed to move out, 
nor any visitors were to be permitted. The issuance of final 
orders and briefing of tribesmen was also to be done at 
Abbottabad 

The British civil and military officials in the NWFP all 
turned a blind eye to these goings-on; in fact, some of them 
rendered active assistance. Inspector General of Police Grace 
at Peshawar did not react at all and the British Deputy 
Commissioner at Mianwali made arrangements to feed the 
tribesmen in thousands. They did not prevent the Lashkar 
lorries from crossing the Abbottabad Bridge While Frank 
Messervey informed General Ldckhart of the impending 
invasion, the latter did not pass on the information to the 
Government he was serving "This failure to inform the 
Indian Government led to an acrtnnonious exchange between 
Nehru and Lockhart m late January 1948. Thereafter, the 
latter resigned as the C-in-C and returned to Britain 


180 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


The operational plan for "Op Gulmarg" involved the main 
force of SIX Lashkars to advance from Domel to Uri-Baramula 
and after capture of Srinagar Airfield, to secure Banihal Pass 
Haji Pir Pass was also one of the vital objectives Two Lashkars 
were to advance from there direct to Gulmrg so as to secure 
the right flank of the mam force. A force of two Lashkars was 
detailed to secure Tithwal and after crossing over the 
Nastachun Pass was required to capture Sopore, Handwara 
and Bandipur In addition a force of 1 0 Lashkars was to 
operate in Poonch, Bhimber and Rawalkot sectors with 
Jammu as the final objective. 

The Azad Army' was responsible to provide guides Two 
supply dumps, one each at Domel and Sialkot were to be 
established by regular army administrative echelons to cater 
to the needs of the two major thrusts 7 Infantry Division was 
required to concentrate in Murree-Abbottabad area by 21 
October 1947 with a brigade at Sialkot to provide back-up 
support to the Lashkars D-Day was fixed as 22 October 
1947. 

The foregoing details of "Op Gulmarg" are based on a 
very interesting, explosive and e.**' 'r account recorded by 
Major General O.S. Kalkat when he was a Brigade Major in 
Bannu Brigade in NWFP under a British Brigade Commander. 
His brush with life-threatenmg danger and a somewhat 
adventurous escape from Pakistan, and subsequent meeting 
with Prime Minister Nehru are recounted in an anecdote in 
Chapter 14 of this Book 

It will thus be seen that despite all the care about secrecy, 
information about the invasion leaked out to India; it is a 
different matter altogether that Indian authorities chose not 
to act on the same — by deliberation or otherwise! "Shiv 
Saran Das was the Deputy Commissioner at Dera Ismail 
Khan, the Southern district of NWFR He came to know of the 
plan. He came on leave to India in late September and 
informed the Government." Ofcourse, neither Indian 
leadership nor the Army Headquarters reacted to safeguard 



The Raiders Raid 


181 


the national interest "While on the Indian side the British 
commanders were truant with the war, the role of British 
officers in Pakistan was quite reverse It was really they who 
had made the bold and ingenious plan to capture J&K by 
using Pathan tribals as well as Pak regular forces in mufti 

Pathans Invade in Full Force 

Soon, all the pieces were in position on the board, at the 
right place and time The agents-provocateurs had played 
their hand The fifth column activity had amply proved its 
worth The State Forces were indeed spread extremely thin 
all along the border, neither depth in the forward defences, 
nor any reserves at all One blow, and that was all that was 
required to shatter the screen of defences occupied by the 
State Forces During the first week of October 1947, border 
posts all along the State borders were being constantly 
engaged by tribesmen, and harassed by the local Muslims 
besides their own comrades stabbing them m the back. On 
the western front also, opposite the main approach to the 
Valley, raider activities had substantially increased adding 
greatly to the tension in the air. "The stage was being 
carefully set for coup de grace" 

4 JAK Battalion was one of the crack battalions of the 
State Forces having served with distinction in Burma during 
the Second World War Lieutenant Colonel Narain Singh, a 
Jammu Dogra was the Commanding Officer with a fierce 
pride in his Battalion in which he had served a long time. 
Unfortunately for him, the Battalion was half Dogra Hindus 
and half Poonchi Muslims. The Battalion was responsible for 
defence of the borders in Muzzaffarbad-Domel sector, 
guarding the mam artery of entry from the plains of Punjab 
into the Valley — indeed the only major metalled road in the 
State and the lifeline of the entire Valley 

While enemy activity in Jammu sector in the Poonch- 
Mirpur border area had been quite heavy over the past 
couple of months, it had been all quiet on the western front 
m the 4 JAK Battalion sector. Just as the Government of India, 


182 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


and to a large extent the State Forces Headquarters in 
Srinagar had been largely ignorant of what was cooking in the 
Rawalpindi-Abbottabdad-Mansehra area, so was the 
Commanding Officer of 4 JAK Battalion. Since more than 
6,000 tribesmen had concentrated in the area with the 
obvious purpose of invading the Valley, and reports of their 
activities had percolated through the Hindu-Sikh refugees, 
the Muslim company commanders continued to assure their 
C O. that there was no substance in such reports He trusted 
his company commanders much more than any other official 
reports, or refugee -gossip to the contrary And this was soon 
to prove to be his undoing. 

Muslim troops in various battalions in the Frontier illaqa 
in the north to Poonch-Mirpur area in the south had, by and 
large, proved to be untrustworthy in as much as they had 
time again remorselessly stabbed their non-Muslim 
compatriots in the back at the very first opportunity Surely, 
the State Force Headquarters as well as other battalion 
commanders were conscious of this serious lacuna in their 
midst, it was therefore suggested to Colonel Narain Singh that 
Dogras replace Muslim elements of his Battalion, more so 
because of the extremely sensitive assignment of his 
Battalion. But the C.O. protested vehemently claiming that 
this would be a great insult of his Battalion, which he would 
not tolerate under any circumstances A typical Hindu Dogra 
response of a high bred military officer — think no evil, hear 
no evil, and if possible, see no evil even if it stares you in the 
face! Such was his trust and faith in his command, in his 
comrades in arms, in true spirit of an infantryman and a good 
C.O., as it should be, (but not to the complete exclusion of 
overwhelming evidence to the contrary). 

The Muslim troops of this Battalion occupying forward- 
defended localities provided a completely false sense of 
security to the rest of the garrison in Domel area. They had 
been in league with the organizers of "Op Culmarg" over the 
past many days, generally on the pretext of assembly i^n the 
mosques. Their subverston as part of the grand des^rv was 


The Raiders Raid 


163 


already complete The commander of 'Azad Forces' had 
established contact with Muslim JCOs of the Company who 
had earlier served under him in Burma and they had assured 
him of 100% support of all Muslim personnel of the Battalion. 
And every single Muslim of 4 JAK Battalion, without a single 
exception, defected to the enemy on the night of 21/22 
October 1947 That fateful night about 5,000 tribesmen 
armed with rifles, machine guns, mortars and grenades 
crossed the border They were guided through the town areas 
of Domel and Muzzaffarabad by the defectors from amongst 
the Lohar Cali post of 'C' Company commanded by Captain 
Azam 

Muzzaffarabad Ransacked 

Muzzaffarabad is situated astride Kishenganga River. This 
was the key road Crossing Over River Jhelum and the primary 
task of Colonel Naram Singh was to demolish this bridge in 
case of an emergency. But the task of fifth columnists from 
amongst the Battalion was to ensure that the raiders get a 
clear passage over the bridge for their advance to Srinagar 
The Poonchi Muslims of the Battalion had already entered 
into a conspiracy to eliminate the Dogras and their CO so as 
to clear the mam road for Pak infiltrators The Poonchis struck 
in the early hours of 22 October 1947 and killed most of the 
Dogras and their C.O It was an internal coup in the State 
Forces of Jammu and Kashmir 

The first military target, as was to be expected, was the 
Battalion Quarter Guard Their very own Muslim comrades 
killed Captain Ram Singh, the Battalion Adjutant and many of 
his Dogra soldiers A footbridge, about 800 yards down 
stream from Domel was the only unguarded crossing. The 
invaders were guided to that crossing point by 'D' Company 
personnel (all Muslims) and thus the Dogra Company 
defences over the Domel Bridge were taken by the raiders 
from the rear. The raiders w^nt for their kiH — raping, looting 
and burning ad lib. The shops and houses were in flames. 
Women were raped in the streets. Children were trampled to 


784 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


death Such was the indescribable frenzy, ferocity and vicious 
debauchery of the so-called liberators of Kashmir 

It was blind faith and trust on one side, treachery and 
deceit on the other Dogra versus Muslim, the former being 
completely unaware of the new sad unequal equation 
Subedar Mir Waz was holding a post at Chon He telephoned 
Subedar Hukam Singh, the platoon commander at the 
neighbouring post at Bhattik, that he was under heavy enemy 
attack and requested for immediate help By this time Muslim 
personnel of Hukam Singh's position had already deserted 
considerably reducing his defence capability But still he 
decided to reinforce Subedar Waz in order to fight the 
common enemy, without in the least suspecting the motives 
of his colleague And that was the end of Hukam Singh's 
platoon All his men were in the trap, stripped down to 
underwear, lined up on the Riverbank and shot in cold blood 
by their very own comrades of yesterday Only one sepoy 
managed to escape the massacre and somehow reached 
Srinagar 

'A' Company Commander, Lieutenant Labh Singh was 
holding a fairly strong defended position in the Barsala- 
Kohala Bridge area and his soldiers were all Dogras He 
fought several small actions against the raider attacks with the 
active help of Hindu and Sikh villagers along with the men of 
the Garrison police, inflicting heavy casualties on the raiders 
In the evening on 24 October 1947, a British Brigadier and a 
Lieutenant Colonel, both of Pak Army, came over to Kohala 
command post and sent for Labh Singh They explained to 
him the gravity of general military situation in so far as the 
Dogras were concerned, and asked him to surrender in 
return for an assured safe passage to Rawalpindi Of course, 
the offer was rejected As they were leaving, Jemadar Suraj 
Prakash who had accompanied his Company Commander 
sard to the British Brigadier, "Good-bye, Sir We shall meet 
again if we live " The brigadier frowned and said, "You won't 
live. Sahib Take it from me 



The Raiders Raid 


185 


These prophetic words set the military grey matter m 
motion He did a quick appreciation of the military situation 
and concluded that his position had become untenable in the 
true military sense With the enemy in occupation of Domel- 
Muzzaffarabad and Pak regular Army in position at Kohala, 
his Barsala post would soon be crushed out of existence 
Labh Singh therefore abandoned his positions at last light on 
25'^ October and withdrew southwestwards in the direction 
of Poonch, with the Hindu-Sikh refugee column in tow 
While retreating, he realised that his line of withdrawal was 
blocked by the enemy m occupation of Topa Ridge 
overlooking Bagala, and in that situation he could not 
possibly extricate his troops and the refugees to safety He 
therefore attacked Topa Ridge at 0215 am and in the process 
captured one VCO (Subedar of Balauch Regiment) and eight 
riflemen in Pak military uniforms The captured arms and 
ammunition was issued to Hindu and Sikh refugees for 
guarding the column Unfortunately, a rumour spread 
amongst the refugees that the State Forces personnel had run 
short of ammunition and were therefore planning to slip 
away leaving the refugees to their fate The result was a 
complete pandemonium and panic In desperation, some 
Sikhs killed their own women, particularly young girls from 
falling into the hands of the tribal raiders When Labh Singh 
heard of this tragedy, he rushed in to stop this tragic massacre 
by when, unfortunately, 3-400 females had already been 
done to death An extremely unfortunate and tragic episode 
in the face of sacrifices being made by the Dogras fighting 
against most severe odds The column including the refugees 
reached the safety of Bagh post on 31 October to join 
Lieutenant Colonel Maluk Singh's force of 8 JAK Battalion 

NOW Who ever said that British officers would not fight 
in any war between India and Pakistan* Remember the fallout 
from Junagarh fiasco? All the canons of moral high ground 
were for application against India, to be deflected away from 
Pakistan, always A British Brigadier in Kohala post when the 
tnbals were physically ransacking Muzzaffarabad A 




186 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


detachment of Baluch Regiment in regular Army uniforms at 
Topa Ridge, Pakistani tanks and flame-throwers supporting 
the raiders at Bhimber as early as end-August 1947, et al 

Road to Srinagar was now open Srinagar was barely 100 
miles away, just a few hours car drive' The glittering prize of 
Valley Beautiful was right there, literally up for grabbing by 
Pakistan without any further ado But there were many a 
proverbial slips between the cup and the lips 

VALIANT DEFENCE BY BRIGADIER RAJINDER SINGH 

"The news of invasion was first received at Srinagar on 
the morning of 22 October when the Officer Commanding 
4''* Battalion spoke to the duty officer at Army Headquarters 
on wireless and informed him of the catastrophe that had 
befallen his troops The Battalion Headquarters was at that 
time under attack by the enemy and Colonel Narain Singh 
could not pass anything beyond an urgent request for 
reinforcements, before going off the air Some Dogras who 
had managed to escape the slaughter at Domel gave further 
information to the Army Headquarters at Srinagar regarding 
fate of the Battalion and their C O By the time this news of 
the disaster reached Srinagar around noon on 22"'' October, 
almost a mile long convoy of lorries and trucks with jubilant 
tribesmen was leisurely winding its way up the Jhelum Valley 

The defences at Garhi, 90 miles west of Srinagar 
crumbled on the first day itself, viz 22"'' October, and the 
enemy launched a three pronged attack on the 
communication centre of Uri from the directions of 
Muzzaffarabad, Domel and Poonch 

The news of the invasion and fall of Domel Bridge intact 
was a most devastating piece of information for Brigadier 
Rajinder Singh, the Officiating Chief of Staff, as well as for the 
Maharaja Hart Siftgh was so upset and excited that he put on 
his military uniform and wanted the Chief of Staff to organise 
reinforcements so that His Highness could personaify lead 
them to battle to stem the eiierrty advance, to defend his dwrt* 



The Raiders Raid 


187 


kingdom personally The Chief of Staff managed to dissuade 
the Maharaja after considerable arguments and that too, only 
when the Brigadier assured His Highness that he would 
personally lead the troops in battle and stop the enemy well 
short of the capital 

All available reserves under the Army Headquarters had 
already been committed at Chirala and Poonch So, for all 
practical purposes, there was nothing in the kitty Brigadier 
Rajinder Singh at the head of a heterogeneous force of three 
officers — Captains Prithi Singh, Khazan Singh and Nasib 
Singh — and about 150 men comprising of two platoons of 
the 1 Battalion, one platoon of the 8'*' Battalion, some 
personnel of the 7‘^ Battalion and most of the staff and 
students of the Training School, a section of MMGs and a 
detachment of 3" mortars from Badami Bagh Cantonment in 
Srinagar left the City at about 6 30 pm on 22"'* October in 
military transport augmented by civilian buses, and reached 
U'ri around midnight. While the CO was organising defences 
at Uri, he sent two platoons under Captain Pnthi Singh 
towards Raghi, about 12 miles short of Domel when they met 
a stream of Hindu and Sikh refugees fleeing from 
Muzzaffarabad and Domel, By this time. Brigadier Rajinder 
Singh had also come forward. 

"The first clash with enemy took place on the morning of 
23 October when the Column was half a mile short of Garhi 
In a head-on collision, in which each side was surprised by 
the other, the enemy, due to his overwhelming numerical 
superiority ultimately got the better of the small Kashmir 
force. After a sharp engagement in which the leading platoon 
suffered its commander Subedar Duni Chand killed and a 
few others wounded. Brigadier Rajinder Singh withdrew his 
force to Hattian 4 km further back and took up a proper 
delaying position there... While the wounded which included 
Captain Prithi Singh were evacuated to Srinagar, Brigadier 
Rajinder Singh flashed off a message to Army Headquarters 
suggesting the following. - 



188 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


* All the available men in the Cantonment to be 
formed into units and dispatched to the front immediately 

* Additional supporting weapons to be procured from 
somewhere and sent up urgently 

* One Company from Punch to advance via Hajipur 
and join up with the force at Uri 

* The Company of the 4* Battalion located at Kupwara 
to immediately move down to Baramula and thence to Uri " 


Since the enemy strength was overwhelming m numbers, 
Rajmder Singh withdrew to another position ahead of Uri 
with a view to delay the enemy advance Thus fighting one 
delaying action after another during the whole of 23"^ 
October, this small force finally withdrew to Uri by nightfall 
where main defences were being organised 

Meanwhile the Maharaja had taken personal command of‘ 
Army Headquarters at Srinagar Brigadier Rajmder spoke to 
Brigadier Faqir Singh, Commander Srinagar Brigade who 
promised to send further reinforcements, about 80 men with 
some 3" mortars and medium machine guns Captain Jawala 
Singh reached Uri around 3 00 am 24 October with these 
additional men and weapons "Jawala Singh while bringing an 
assurance that action on the Brigadier's other suggestions was 
in hand had also brought with him a written order from His 
Highness, the Maharaja, binding Brigadier Rajmder Singh to 
hofd Uri at all costs even if it meant fighting to the last man 
and the last round 

By this time, situation at Uri also had become quite 
precarious with hordes of raiders fast approaching the small 
township Rajmder Stngh got tJie steel Girder Bridge at Uri 
demolished thus holding up further advance of tribal Lashkars 
for the whole day of 24*. It is not to say that the raiders were 
not able to cross and proceed to Srmagiar They could, and 
they would have easily marched upto the capital and 
captured it, if they wanted to and that was the big 'if' The 



The Raiders Raid 


189 


tribesmen had not come all the way from the Frontier 
Province for securing any such territorial gains for Pakistan. 
Their sole motivation was love of plunder, loot, booty and 
women, to be taken back to their homes in NWFP for which 
availability of their own transport was sine qua non No 
lorries, no move forward Being basically undisciplined in 
nature, no amount of persuasion could make them change 
their mind So they remained on the western end of the 
demolished bridge till diversions could be prepared for the 
lorries to get across 

Meanwhile, as a diversion from boredom of waiting, they 
let themselves loose at whatever was to be found anywhere 
around the place. Preparation of a crossing for vehicles over 
the demolished bridge site took about two days, thus 
delaying the debussed column of invaders. In the ultimate 
analysis, it is this delay caused by demolition of the bridge by 
Brigadier Rajinder Singh that saved Srinagar, and the Valley of 
Kashmir for India In the meantime, Commander-in-Chief of 
Indian Army received "official" news of the invasion on 24**’ 
October. On the morning of that day, Indian Army was 
directed "to examine and prepare plans for sending troops to 
Kashmir by air and road " The proposed tasks of the military 
units were: "to secure the airfield at Srinagar, to render 
assistance to the Government of Kashmir in maintaining law 
and order in Srinagar and, if possible, to drive away any 
tribesmen who might have entered the city."^^ 

Mahura Power Fails 

The hordes of tribesmen in their distinctive mazri dress 
came close to the hastily organised and ill-prepared Un- 
defences, and keeping them engaged frontally, they resorted 
to their usual tactics of infiltration and bypassing prepared 
defences. A large force of the enemy crossed over to the 
north bank of )helum and moved ahead to recross the river 
over another footbridge further upstream thus completely 
out-flanking the State troops at Uri. In the face of these 
dangerous moves by the raiders, Rajinder Singh had no 


7 90 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


option but to abandon Uri When the withdrawing State 
Forces troops reached in the vicinity of Mahura power house 
around 11 30 pm on 24'^ October, the staff at the power 
house thought that the invaders were coming Since they had 
already heard various stories about their ferocity and 
savagery, alarm and panic set m, and they put the power 
plant out of action plunging the Valley including the capital in 
darkness thereby adding further to the confusion and panic 
amongst the civilian population When the Mahura power 
was cut off, Dussehra festivities were in full swing in Srinagar 
and the Maharaja was busy accepting nazaar from the nobles 
as that day, 24* October was also his birthday 

In order to prevent the enemy bypassing from the north 
and later crossing over to the south bank of river Jhelum, the 
Brigadier ordered Captain Jawala Singh to demolish the 
footbridges across the river in this area This was successfully 
accomplished The raiders were thus denied Mahura during" 
the daylong skirmishes on the 25* after which Rajmder Singh 
was forced to withdraw to another delaying position at 
Buniyar 

The teeming multitude of tribesmen came in droves, 
wave after wave, awe inspiring in their sheer numbers and 
appearance The Qabaihs infiltrated between Mahura and 
Rampur in large numbers Rajinder Singh therefore decided 
to withdraw to Rampur and thence to the Sen Ridge, short of 
Baramula On the way out, the State troops fought numerous 
rearguard actions at roadblocks and tried to delay the enemy 
as much as they could It was a most unequal fight, and at the 
best of times, a most difficult of military operations to 
conduct At the second road block rearguard action at Diwan 
Mandir, the Brigadier's driver was killed and the Brigadier 
himself was mortally wounded "We have it on the testimony 
of Captain Khazan Smgb who was in the same vehicle as 
Brigadier Rajinder Singh, that he and his men offered to carry 
the Brigadier on their backs but the Brigadier appreciating 
that carrying him would hinder the withdrawal, asked them 
to leave him there, and themselves rush to the next defensive 



The Raiders Raid 


191 


position. That was the last that was seen of this gallant son of 
Jammu The tragedy of the situation lies in the fact that, 
unknown to the Brigadier and Captain Khazan Singh, the last 
vehicle carrying the rear guard was yet to cross the roadblock 
when Captain Khazan Singh and his men abandoned the 
vehicle and took to the hills When the last vehicle finally 
arrived on the spot, its commander Subedar Swaran Singh 
steered his vehicle past the abandoned vehicle through 
enemy fire without knowing that Brigadier Rajinder Singh was 
lying wounded somewhere around " In the meantime, the 
Company of 4*'^ Battalion from Kupwara under Captain 
Prabhat Singh moved down towards Baramula as had been 
suggested by Rajinder Singh. He deployed his Company and 
the remnants of Jawala Singh's force a little beyond Baramula 
while Jawala Singh himself wounded took the dead and 
wounded to Srinagar 

The death of Brigadier Rajinder Singh brought to an end 
the heroic efforts made by a small band of dedicated soldiers 
to stem the advance of a multitude of cruel and despicable 
bands of raiders who neither knew nor respected any human 
values in their avarice and greed for loot, plunder and 
women With a handful of men, and fighting against 
impossible odds, this gallant Brigadier delayed the enemy 
advance long enough for military aid from India to reach the 
Capital, and thus he was personally respdnsible for not only 
saving the Valley for India but also saved Srinagar suffering 
the same fate as was inflicted on Baramula. For his personal 
courage and leadership. Brigadier Rajinder Singh was 
awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, the first recipient of India's 
second highest gallantry award, while Subedar Ram Saran 
Dass of the 8**’ Battalion who commanded the two 
detachments of 3" mortars was awarded the Vir Chakra. In 
the words of Lieutenant General K.S. Katoch, Colonel 
Commandant of J & K Rifles, "'In fact, it is my considered 
view that but for the sacrifice made by Brigadier Rajinder 
Smgh arid later by Lieutenant Colonel Ranjit Rai of Indian 
Army, We would undoubtedly have lost the Valley." In a 


792 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


similar vein, "In my opinion three factors saved Srinagar* ( i) 
The original stand made by the State forces troops at 
Muzzaffarabad and later at Uri. ( ii) The time wasted by the 
raiders in their rampage at Baramula. (iii) Lieutenant Colonel 
Rai's stand at Baramula and Rattan and also Major Sharma's 
heroic stand at Badgom."^® 

When the raiders attacked Domel-Muzzaffarabad area, 
and were busy ransacking the rural areas to satisfy their lust, 
there were nearly 1850 officers and men in Badami Bagh 
cantonment besides another more than one hundred in 
hospital, sick leave, etc. About five hundred of these were 
Poonchies and the remainder were Dogras, Corkhas and 
Sikhs They were trained soldiers like any others of the State 
Force personnel. Then why did Brigadier Rajinder Singh take 
only 200 men with him, reinforced by another about 100 
later? In fact, the question arises why did the COS himself 
assume for himself the role of a company commander instead 
of remaining in his headquarters where he could have easily 
organised the available manpower into at least two weak 
battalions and thus offered better resistance to the advancing 
enemy? Why was Brigadier Faqir Singh not directed to 
organise the men in the Cantonment and lead them to 
Baramula area, if not still further ahead, to delay the enemy? 
Brigadier Rajinder Singh's absence from Srinagar at that most 
critical time left the Army Headquarters of the State Forces 
completely rudderless And time was the most crucial factor 
— All these valid questions demand an answer. However, in 
so far as the question of COS himself leading about 150 men 
IS concerned, it is well on the cards that, in order t<^ placate 
the Maharaja and to dissuade him from assuming the same 
rote, the COS had to offer himself for the task, which is quite 
understandable under the circumstances Perhaps, the 
attitude of* His Highness left him with no other option. But 
the other questions are far more important in this context to 
which, indeed, there is no answer in currently available 
literature.. Be that as it rnay, there is no denying the fact 
that Brigadier Rajinder Singh indeed did an excellent jobc^f a 



The Raiders Raid 


193 


highly risky and difficult assignment And in his absence. 
Brigadier Faqir Singh as well as the Maharaja should have 
taken the initiative to mobilise the troops available in the 
Cantonment and organise the defences at Baramula, or as far 
forward as possible It is difficult to explain as to why no body 
reacted on those lines 

The raiders occupied Mahura Power House on 25'*’ 
October When this news reached Srinagai, Hindus and Sikhs 
of the area were in great panic Not knowing what the future 
had in store for them, but being quite aware what fate 
awaited them if and when the tribals reached the Capital, 
they started moving down south over Banihal Pass with 
whatever they could take along, by whatever means they 
could get out, more so since the mam aim of the raiders was 
communal vengeance, loot and women Another great 
exodus of Hindus and Sikhs had begun to culminate into a 
multitude of traumatized homeless people, victims of a 
senseless vendetta 

The fall of Domel and Muzzaffarabad, failure of electric 
power in the Valley, death of his Chief of Staff, et al, 
completely unnerved Maharaja Sir Han Singh He along with 
his family left Srinagar on the night of 25 October 1947, 
albeit on the advice and urging of VP Menon His departure 
was soon followed by flight of top officials of the Government 
leaving the Capital and its people to their own fate 

Rape of Baramula 

Having captured Mahura and its vital powerhouse on 25“’ 
October, the next day the raiders were at Baramula, a small 
town of 14,000 people, 35 miles from Srinagar on the main 
black topped Domel-Un-Snnagar Road In the words of Josef 
Korbel, "The tribesmen — great, wild, black beasts they were 
— came shooting down from the hills on both sides of the 
town A 20-year-old Indian nurse, Philomena, tried to protect 
a Muslim patient whose baby had just been born She was 
shot dead first The patient was next 


794 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


The horrors of Pathan atrocities have been vividly 
described in a 1948 Government of India White Paper But 
the horrendous savagery of the tribal raiders is graphically 
better described in the words of foreign writers and visitors 
rather than Indian-Hin lus who might be accused of partiality 
on communal grounds This town was visited by Robert 
Trombull, a correspondent of the New York Times, after its 
recapture by the Indian troops who in his dispatch published 
in the paper of 10 November 1947 wrote, "The City has 
been stripped of its wealth and young women before the 
tribesmen fled in terror at midnight Friday, before the 
advancing Indian Army Surviving residents estimate that 
3,000 of their fellow townsmen including four Europeans and 
a retired British officer, known only as Colonel Dykes, and his 
pregnant wife were slain When the raiders rushed into the 
town on October 26'^ witnesses said, 'One party of Mahsud 
tribesmen immediately scaled the walls of St Joseph 
Franciscan Hospital compound, and stormed the Convent 
hospital and the little church Four nuns and Colonel Dykes 
were shot immediately' 

"Murder, rape, arson, loot and bestial murder of a local 
National Conference worker, Maqbool Sherwani, who had 
rallied local sentiment against the invaders, provided further 
evidence that they had not come to liberate their fellow 
Muslims He was crucified before being shot, to be 
remembered as a hero " Religion or the so called liberation 
of Kashmir was the last item on the tribals' agenda, all that 
they were interested in was loot and women, and they got so 
much of the latter that abducted girls were sold in hundreds 
for Rs 150/- each back home 

Colonel DOT Dykes was the Commandant of Sikh 
Regimental Centre and had come to Baramula for his wife's 
confinement After shooting the Colonel, the raiders molested 
his pregnant wife whose naked body was later found in a 
nearby well However, General Lockhart rang up General 
Douglas Gracey m Rawalpindi who managed to get the Dyke 
children recovered and sent to England Another lucky 



The Raiders Raid 


195 


escapee was Major J E Thompson who was in Baramula on 
27'^ October and had a miraculous escape. He managed to 
reach Abbottabad and thence to Delhi to meet his fiancee, 
an Indian girl 

The occupants of the Presentation Convent including the 
Assistant Mother Superior, Sister Terasoline were murdered 
and the vandalism was extended even to the holy crosses on 
the graves, besides of course the church and its properties 

Instead of advancing to Srinagar Airfield and blitzkrieging 
to Banihal Pass, the Lashkars were frantically busy in satisfying 
their lust for booty of goods and women. In this carnage of 
unparalleled proportions, India gained another two precious 
days in which to rush m military assistance and thus save the 
Valley The enforced sacrifices of residents of Baramula, 
Muslims and non-Muslims alike saved the people of Srinagar 
from a similar violent fate However, for the residents of 
Baramula, it was indeed the bleakest Id-ul-Fitr — October 
27, 1947 

Ethereal Victory Vapourizes 

The planners of "Op Gulmarg" were absolutely confident 
of success of their venture. They had even worked out a plan 
for post-liberation scenario also And, pray, why not? After all, 
all factors and circumstances favoured the Pak plans The 
terrain was ideal for guerilla warfare and Infiltration tactics. 
Successful fifth column activities had subverted the Muslim 
elements of the State Forces completely. The State Forces had 
been dispersed and thinly spread all along the 500 miles of 
State borders, with no second line of defence, or depth 
positions, nor any reserves whatsoever in the heartland. The 
State Forces had no artillery or other supporting arms, nor an 
organised set-up of military supply services. In fact, the State 
Forces were dependent on Pakistani bases for replenishment 
of ammunition and Petroleum products. In any case, they 
were neither organised nor equipped and trained to fight 
against external attack kt such a gigantic scale as was 
launched by f^kistan. The social and political conditions 


796 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


were most favourable to the invading hordes Above all, the 
surface communications were entirely in favour of the 
invaders Under the circumstances, only one result could be 
expected — VICTORY Victory for Pakistan 

Akbar Khan had assumed a grand nom de plume of 
"General Tariq", romantically significant after the Arab 
invasion of Morocco m the 8th century AD He was proud to 
be the Chief of the Raiders, an appellation that earlier used 
to smack of being derogatory and disparaging but now 
" raiding is, now a days, an accepted and very highly 
developed branch of the art of war So we can, I think, 
without indignity, retain the name 'raiders' — particularly so 
when the fighting technique of the Frontier tribesmen does, 
in the military sense, make him indeed a very competent and 
daring type of raider Akbar Khan had planned a victory 
march into Srinagar for which GHQ had located a Pak Army 
Brigade at Kohala, as back-up support for initial invasion, and 
for mopping up operations later 

The distance from Domel-Muzz^ffarabad to Srinagar was 
just about 100 miles over a good metalled black topped road 
Once the defenders of the strategic bridge, 4 JAK Battalion 
had been eliminated in an internal coup as per plan, and the 
bridge taken intact, it was merely a comfortable few hours 
drive by a column on four-wheelers And if Pak military 
strategists had planned for a fast moving blitzkrieg operation, 
and had allocated a sq4jadron of armoured cars, the entire 
operation would have been successfully concluded by the 
evening of 22 October 1947 All over in 24 hours* Possession 
IS the nine points of law Accession would have automatically 
followed in favour of Pakistan 

However, perhaps the Pak Army did not want to show 
their hand so soon in the proceedings They kept their faith 
in storming the Valley by Qabaili Lashkars assembled for the 
dual purpose^. And that is where they miscalculated The 
halting of the advance at Uri, holding up the motorized 
column at the demolished bridge for 2-3 days was most 



The Raiders Raid 


197 


crucial The situation could have been retrieved if foot 
columns had been organised to march on the scenic route 
along the Jhelum to Baramula and beyond to Srinagar But 
that was not to be, since the invaders were not amenable to 
such discipline and organisation They had their own ideas of 
conducting such operations in their own way, independent of 
interference by other agencies And their own aim-plus was 
quite clear they stuck to their guns and vehicles 

Nevertheless, the fortunes of battle, and ultimately of the 
war were still in favour of Pakistan when the invaders 
captured Mahura powerhouse on 24-25 October 1947 
Srinagar was now so close, just a couple of hours quick drive 
away There was nothing between Pakistan and their 
objective, Srinagar, that could possibly hold up their advance 
except Brigadier Rajinder Singh with a couple of assorted 
companies of the State troops The Maharaja had still not 
decided on the million-dollar question, in fact, at that point 
of time he was almost on his way seeking the safety of 
Jammu It was so near, yet so far The lust for loot, the instinct 
to plunder, abduction and rape overtook the invaders at 
Baramula inflicting a most devastating blow to Mr jinnah's 
plans of celebrating Id-ul-Fitr in the comfortable environs of 
Srinagar 

Pak Army Brigade waited in vain at Kohala to rush to 
Srinagar — to round up, and failing persuasion, force the 
tribals into their vehicles to be escorted back to the S P, the 
starting point of the operations in Pakistan But that was not 
to be' While Baramula was being ransacked and plundered 
ad !ib, Indian Army was flying on the "wings of courage" to 
take charge of the Airfield, the Capital and the Valley, to 
wrest victory from the jaws of defeat 

On the morning of October 29, 'General Tariq' 
accompanied by the press correspondent Ah Akhtar Mirza 
left for Srinagar to take stock of the situation The next 
evening they were in the vicinity of Milestone 4, just on the 
outskirts of Srfnagar Having encountered no opposition, and 


198 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


no traffic either, his first reaction on encountering the water 
obstacle was to get a couple of armoured cars, which would 
drive straight through and make a grand entrance into the 
town before Indian forces could become strong enough to 
resist the tribesmen " — they could reach here from Pakistan 
within twenty-four hours The thing to do, therefore was to 
rush back and get the armoured cars 

On return to Rawalpindi, Colonel Masud offered Akbar 
Khan to take not two but the whole of his squadron of 
armoured cars, the men in civil dress, without official orders, 
all at their own risk So great was the response and 
enthusiasm for the so-called 'liberation' of Kashmir However, 
Brigadier Sher Khan and the Central Government Minister 
Raja Chazanfar All Khan strongly opposed the idea for fear of 
provoking India into full-scale war with Pakistan The 
proposal was therefore dropped But for this quirk of fate, 
'General Tariq' would have achieved a fait accompli against 
official orders and policy Srinagar saved again' This time by 
Pakistanis themselves, when they grabbed defeat while 
victory was already in their grasp 

By this time, operations were in progress in four major 
areas of the State Chhamb-Jhangar-Rajauri, Poonch, Kashmir 
Valley and fourthly, Skardu-Kargil-Leh area Starting with local 
raids in Jammu and Poonch area in August 1947, Pakistan's 
second phase of invasion was attacks on Mirpur-Kotli area in 
October-November, followed by annexation of Gilgit and 
advance towards Skardu in November The fourth stage of 
Pak invasion was "Operation Gulmarg" in the Valley with 
planned incursions towards Tithwal and Gurais, simultaneous 
with major attacks in Poonch-Bhimber However, the mood 
of the people in the Valley was totally anti-Pakistan, Sheikh 
Abdullah was riding at the cre^ of popularity 

Role of the State forces 

Vvith "Op Gulmarg" off the launch pad, and the 
impending arrival of Indian Army on the scene, the active 
and independent part being played bv the State Forces was 



The Raiders Raid 


199 


soon to come to end There is no gainsaying that the crucial 
part played by the State Forces under the inspiring leadership 
of Brigadier Rajinder Singh in stemming the advance was 
primarily responsible for saving Srinagar, and ultimately the 
whole of the Valley It is indeed very unfortunate that the role 
of the State Forces was adversely commented upon by top 
leadership of India, obviously due to ignorance of the factual 
position as well absence of suitable briefing In this context it 
needs to be understood that the State troops were not 
organised, equipped and trained, nor expected to 
independently fight in a regular war like situation It was a 
small force charged with defending nearly 500 miles of 
frontier, which was much beyond its capabdrty Their 
potential was limited merely to border policing duties and 
internal law and order problems The State troops were 
deployed m small garrisons all along the border to fulfil that 
role, and no more They did not have any armour, artillery or 
communication equipment to undertake regular warfare on 
their own Of course, they could, and did prove to be an 
effective appendage to a regular army, as they had been m 
the past under the British regime, and later did so shoulder to 
shoulder with the Indian Army too 

The strength of the State Forces was so limited — a mere 
eight infantry battalions — and the area to be defended so 
vast and spread out that organised coordinated defensive 
measures on an effective scale could possibly not be 
undertaken, more so when no reserves at all were available, 
nor mobility and communication infrastructure existed All 
that they were capable of was to put up a defensive screen, a 
thin crust which once pierced through by the enemy, did not 
have any resources for a second line of defence, or counter- 
attack capability 

As soon as lapsing of paramountcy became a fact of life 
and Pakistan decided to annex the territory by force, there 
was a perpetual shortage of ammunition, war-like stores and 
materials, besides the strangulating effects of economic and 
commercial blockade by Pakistan which starved the State 


200 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Forces of their supplies of military materials as well as other 
necessities of life Unfortunately, the Indian authorities too 
failed to come to the assistance of the State Forces in terms of 
military hardware and ammunition Although the State 
Government with the Government of India placed an indent 
for supply of arms, ammunition and other military hardware, 
the supplies did not materialise even though the Defence and 
Home Ministers had personally given their approval Maybe, 
the British officers who were in control of higher echelons of 
Indian Armed Forces prevented the supplies being made to 
the State On the other hand, while Indian troops were 
fighting the Pakistanis, substantial sums of money and military 
stores were being sent to Pakistan — the former at the 
political level and the latter at the military level where British 
officers were enthusiastic to keep up the business as usual 
atmosphere in implementing the terms of division of military 
assets between the two Dominions Indian attitude towards 
Pakistan was unduly magnanimous because of our innate 
naivete "The division of war equipment between the two 
countries had become the most unpalatable affair Whatever 
arms and ammunition was sent to Pakistan was being used 
against us in J&K While we were sending tram loads of it to 
Pakistan, each one of us was painfully conscious that we were 
indirectly helping Pakistan to kill our own men We were 
helpless, for the C-in-C insisted that we continue to send 
Pakistan's share to her I implored him to stop or at least slow 
down this movement as Pakistan had done, but all I received 
m turn was a stern warning that notwithstanding what 
Pakistan did, we were to fulfill our obligations faithfully 

The class composition of the State Forces was a major 
factor contributing to the inherent weaknfess of the Force 
Not that It could have been avoided That was impossible, 
considering the population mix All the same, the fact 
remains that desertions and betrayals by the Muslim elements 
at critical junctures led to humiliating defeat of an otherwise 
fine body of fighting men whose personal qualities as soldiers 
were second to none 



The Raiders Raid 


201 


Notwithstanding all the foregoing constraints, and "in 
spite of such handicaps and against overwhelming attacking 
hordes, State forces fought hard and well and held 
tenaciously at all important defensive positions like Punch, 
Kotli, Bhimber, Mirpur and Skardu During the entire 
Operations, this small force lost 1990 men; the 
corresponding figure for Indian Army was 1103."'’^ The 
sacrifices made by the State Forces and the honours and 
awards bestowed by the powers that be also show a similar 
trend of disparity — the State Forces personnel's acts of 
bravery and ultimate sacrifice have gone by unsung and 
unrewarded in many a cases. 


NOTES & REFERENCES 

1 2 JAK, half Gorkha and half Muslim commanded by Lieutenant 
Colonel Khuda Baksh boarded HMS Islamia at Karachi on 19 Au- 
gust 1944 and went to Basra in Iraq as part of PAI Force — Persia 
And Iraq Force After serving in Iraq till mid-September, the Battal- 
ion moved to Syria Major General G A Pilleau commended 2 JAK 
for Its fine performance and recommended that the Battalion re- 
main in the area until the end of the withdrawal of British troops 
At the end of the War, they disembarked at Bombay on 25 January 
1946 

4 JAK Infantry, half Dogra and half Muslim, was sent to Raiwala 
Jungle Warfare Training Centre near Dehradun m March 1944 and 
joined 9 Indian Infantry Brigade of 5 Indian Infantry Division in 
Burma in October 1944 which was then advancing eastward for 
recapture of Burma During its tenure in Burma, the Battalion 
earned two O.B.E s, one M B E , five M C s, three I.D S M.s one 
O.B.I. class I and one O B I class II — Palit D.KVrC, Maj'or Gen- 
eral, "Jammu And Kashmir Arms History of the J & K Rifles", Palit 
and Dutt F*ublishers, Dehradun, 1972, pp 134-36. 

2 Bamzai, Prithvi Nath Kaul,"A History of Kashmir. Political-So- 
cial-Cultural from the Earliest Times to the Present 
Day"; Metropolitan Book Company, New Delhi, 1962;p 665. 

3 Palit D.K.; op at pp. 150-51 


202 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


4 Jammu and Kashmir State Forces had two mountain batteries of 
artillery, which during the Second World War became part of 23 
Mountain Regiment in Burma At the time of Partition, they were 
stationed in the NWFP like many other units of the Indian Army, 
or State Forces One of these two batteries later joined 2 (SP) Field 
Regiment of Pakistan at Mardan while the other was repatriated to 
India 

5. Brahma Singh K Major, "FJistory of Jammu & Kashmir Rifles 
(1820-1956)", Lancer International, New Delhi, 1990, pp 223-24 

6 Kadian Rajesh, The Kashmir Tangle, Vision Books, New Delhi 
1992;p.? 

7 Brahma Singh, op cit , p 222-23 

8 Nanda K K , Lieutenant General, "Conquering Kashmir, A Paki- 
stani Obsession"; Lancer Books, New Delhi, 1 994, pp.1 1 0-1 1 ? 

9 Palit D K ,op. cit , p 1 60. 

lOAkbarKhan, DSO, Major General, "Raiders in Kashmir";Army 
Publishers, Delhi/Karachi 1970, p 86 

11 Tharochi Fort is situated on the left bank of River Poonch, 
about 8 miles south of Kotli. The Mongral Muslims under Nasir- 
Din Khan built it. The Fort fell to the Sikhs during the reign of Ma- 
haraja Ranjit Singh, In 1855 it passed into the possession of Maha- 
raja Gulab Singh when he defeated Raja Jawahar Singh Gulab 
Singh rebuilt the Fort in stone In 1937 it was garrisoned by a de- 
tachment of eight rank and file of Fort Guards — Major K Brahma 
Singh, op cit 297 

12 Palit, op. cit , p.1 64. 

13.550 Para Brigade had lost its Brigade Signal Section to Pakistan 
as a result of division of military assets between the two Domin- 
ions — Major General Shaukat Riza, "The Pakistan Army 1947- 
1949", Natraj Publishers, Dehradun, First Indian edition 1997; 
p.309. 

14. Brahma Singh; op. cit.; p 223. 


The Raiders Raid 


203 


^ 5 Brigadier Rajinder Singh was born on 1 4"’ June 1 899 in a fam- 
ily of Jamwal 

Rajputs He graduated from PW College Jammu and was commis- 
sioned as a Lieutenant in Jammu and Kashmir State Forces at the 
age of 22 years — Brahma Singh, op cit , p 223 

16 Brahma Singh, op cit pp 150-51 

17 Khurshid K H , "Memoirs of Jinn", Oxford University Press, 
Karachi, 1990 

18 Chibber M L Lieutenant General, "Pakistan's Criminal Folly in 
Kashmir", Manas Publications, New Delhi 1998, pp 51 and 58 

19 Karan Singh, "Heir Apparent", Vol 1, OUP, New Delhi, 1982, 
p 92 

20 Dewan Chaman Lai, 'The Kashmir Story', an article in Volume 
II of 'The Story of Kashmir' Yesterday and Today"; Edited by 
Vermder Grover,Deep & Deep Publications, New Delhi, 1995, 
p 343 

21 Mullik B.N.; "My Years with Nehru Kashmir", Allied Publishers, 
New Delhi, 1971. 

22. Palit, op cit,p.l53. 

23. Mr Josef Korbel, a Czech diplomat, was India's nominee on the 
United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) His 
Daughter, Madeleine Albright rose to be the US Secretary of State 
— Jairam Ramesh in "India Today" dated 12 July 1999. 

24 Korbel Josef, "Danger in Kashmir"; Princeton University Press, 
Princeton. 1954. 

25. Kadian Rajesh; The Kashmir Tangle, Vision Books, New Delhi 
1992; p.79 

26. Kalkat O.S. Major General,"The Far Flung Frontiers", Allied 
Publishers, New Delhi, 1983. 

27 Chibber Ml.y Lieutenant Ger>eral; "Pakistan's Criminial Folly in 
Kashmir", Manas Publications, New Delhi, 1998;p.69 



204 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


28 Rajinder Nath, Major General, "Military Leadership m India — 
From Vedic Period to Indo-Pak Wars", Lancer Books, New Delhi 
1990, p 266 

29 Palit D K ,op cit p 1 78 

30 Ibid.p 1 83 

31 Brahma Singh, op cit , p 233 

32 Ibid, pp.233-35 

33 Palit D.K ,op cit. p 196 

34 Brahma Singh, op cit pp 234-36. 

35 Atal Hira Lai, Major General, "Nehru's Emissary to Kashmir"; 
Army Education Stores, New Delhi, 1972, pp 136-37 

36 Korbel Josef;op. cit. p.88 

37 Trombull Robert, New York Times dated 10 November 1947 

38.Menezes S.L. Lieutenant General, "Fidelity & Honour The In- 
dian Army From The Seventeenth to The twenty-first Century", Vi- 
king, 1 993, p 438 

39 Akbar Khan, op cit. p.68 

40. The great African tribal Chief converted to Islam and called 
himself Tariq-Ibn-Zarea He led the Arab Armies in conquest of 
Spain A fort was then built at Mons Cape to honour his memory 
and was named as Gebel-al-Tariq, the Hill of Tariq, which, down 
the ages got corrupted into Gibraltar 

41. Ibid p 43 

42. Brahma Singh op. cit pp22 3-224 

43. Thorat S.P.RLieutenant Cer>eral, "From ReveiHe to Retreat", Al- 
lied Publishers, New Delhi, 1985; p.100 

44 Bloeria Sudhir S. Dr., "The Battles of Zojila", Har Anand Publi- 
cations, New Delhi, 1 997, p,46. 



INDIAN MILITARY 
INTERVENTION 


After relinquishtng the high office of Governor General of 
India, Lord Louis Mountbatten m a speech in Cambridge on 
14 November 1968, informed the audience that during his 
stay at Srinagar from 18 to 23 June 1947 he had told 
Maharaja Sir Han Singh, "Ascertain the will of your people by 
any means and join any Dominion your people wish to join 
by 14 August this year He did not do that, and what 
happened can be seen Had he acceded to Pakistan before 
August 14, the future Government of India had given me an 
assurance that no objection whatsoever would be raised by 
them Had His Highness acceded to India by August 14, 
Pakistan did not then exist, and therefore could not have 
interfered " Further, he had made it explicitly clear to the 
Maharaja that the "only protection for Kashmir after 15 
August 1947 was to join one or the other of the Constituent 
Assemblies " 

But the Maharaja remained indecisive, tied down to a 
perpetual hesitation-syndrome He did not pay heed, neither 
to the advice of the British Governor General of India, nor to 
the consequences of raids from across the border that started 
taking place from mid-July onwards, if not still earlier, all 
along the border of his State with Pakistan He ignored the 
signals coming from the ominous developments in Gilgit and 
the Frontier lllaqas, from Skardu How could any sane person 
not take cpgrrizanc^ of what was going on in Gilgit and the 



206 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Northern Areas is beyond comprehension He also ignored 
the meaning behind Mahatma Gandhi's visit to Srinagar in 
early August 1947 Although it w/as a low key visit, but it was 
significant in as much as a man of his stature had decided to 
personally visit the Valley at a such a critical juncture, when 
historic events were unfolding in the mam arena at Delhi 

That was not all. Even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh 
connection with Han Singh was used At the instance of 
Sardar Patel, Madhavrao Sadashiv Golwalkar, Chief of RSS 
since 1940 tried to persuade the Maharaja to acceded to 
India, and urged him to recruit Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs in 
his Army But all in vain The inevitable was to happen The 
writing was on the wall was always there but Han Singh could 
not see a thing. The Maharaja lodged his first formal protest 
to Pakistan on 4^'^ September 1947 against the raids and the 
economic blockade imposed by Pakistan in complete 
violation of the Standstill Agreement, which Pakistan had 
accepted with reference to the status of Jammu and Kashmir 
that was, technically, still an independent entity. Here it 
should be noted that the raids had started as early as mid-July 
but the very first protest note went out on September 4**’ He 
was so far removed from reality that as late as 1 5 October 
1947 the Maharaja cabled the British Prime Minister in 
London about the economic blockade and the invasion of the 
State by Pak nationals in the garb of tribal raiders. What locus 
standi the British Prime Minister had in this matter! 

This state of suspense and indecision seemed to continue 
ad nauseam ad infinitum, much to the chagrin of all 
concerned including the people of the State who were at the 
receiving end. This resulted in disastrous consequences, 
which followed the full-scale invasion of the Valley by 
Pakistan, with covert connivance of British officers holding 
commanding positions in both the Dominions. It is indeed 
astonishing that even Lord Mountbatten's last address to the 
Princes, about one month before Partition, in his capacity as 
the Crown Representative in which he advised the Princes to 
accede to India or Pakistan, subj'ect among other 



Indian Military Intervention 


207 


considerations to the factor of geographical contiguity, did 
not cut any ice on the Maharaja Above all, Han Singh also 
Ignored the developments emanating from the Poonch 
Rebellion where 'no tax' campaigns started as early as April 
1947 had assumed menacing proportions It was all in vain 

On 22"'* October 1947, the raids had been transformed 
into a full-fledged invasion of the Valley Pakistan's intense 
desire to forcibly occupy Kashmir stemmed from the strategic 
importance of the State in the context of Central Asia and the 
rest of the sub-continent, as well as the security of Lahore- 
Rawalpindi road-rail corridor, but above all, because of its 
Muslim majority status vis-a-vis the "Two Nation Theory" 

Indeed, Han Singh was living m a dreamland of his own 
making from which he awoke with a start and hurriedly fled 
Srinagar on the night of 25*'’ October with his family and 
valuables, driving hell for leather the whole night and the 
next day over the Banihal Pass and the fair weather single 
road to Jammu This scenario was of course the near- 
culmination of the drama of Accession since 15,000-20,000 
Pathans — who had a natural predilection for fighting 
whether with others or amongst themselves — stiffened by 
Pak regulars had reached the gates of Srinagar for what was 
portrayed to them as the Jehad (Muslim religious war) 

There is no gainsaying that the Maharaja continued to 
avoid facing the inevitable choice in the matter of accession 
to one Dominion or the other, but that does not mean that 
he was not responding to the military threat On 13 
September 1947, hts Government approached New Delhi for 
loan of services of Lieutenant Colonel Kashmira Singh Katoch 
to replace Major General Scott They also requested for 
arrangements to be made for telegraph, telephone and 
wireless communications to be established with India, as well 
as improvement of Pathankot-Jammu road including a boat- 
bridge over the Ravi On 1®* October the State Government 
sent an indent for ammunition and military equipment The 
Deputy Prune Minister die State, B L Batra also requested 


208 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


for concentration of Indian military forces around Madhopur, 
for early induction if required It is unfortunate that due to 
various factors, practically neither any action was taken by 
the Indian authorities on the specific requests of neither the 
State Government, nor any worthwhile advance military 
planning done to meet an emergency. Maybe, the British 
military officers holding senior and top positions at Delhi 
thwarted whatever attempts the nascent Indian Government 
made. 

"Azad Kashmir" State 

Notwithstanding the pressure tactics of Pakistan, the 
heightened fifth columnist activities and subversion of Muslim 
elements of the State Forces as well as in the civil services in 
Jammu region, the bulk of the Muslim population in the 
Valley continued to follow their traditional line of secularism 
and communal amity This was in sharp contrast to the 
communal frenzy prevailing in the southern sectors of the 
State. Despite the communal carnage in Northern and 
Eastern India that preceded and followed the Partition, the 
situation in the Valley continued to be peaceful and 
harmonious barring some odd pockets of fanaticism in 
downtown Srinagar which were lying dormant. The people, 
by and large, were with the Sheikh. They favoured the line of 
National Conference to tie the knot with India, and certainly 
not with Pakistan, more so after the savage depredations at 
Muzzaffarabad and Baramula, the latter in particular This by 
itself was a loud vindication of Indian National Congress 
stand on the "Two Nation Theory" which the Valley Muslims 
had repudiated whole heartedly m no uncertain terms In the 
face of marauding raiders who made no distinction between 
Muslims and Hindus in so far.as their basic aim of plunder 
and women was concerned, the National Conference took 
up the task of organising defence of Srinagar and surrounding 
areas. Thousands of focat volunteers including women from 
all communities came fbtward for rifle training and patrolling, 
mustering to the call of "Shaheed Ho", to keep order, protect 
vital installations thus defeating the evfl designs of the raiders 



Indian Military Intervention 


209 


While cataclysmic developments were taking place m the 
Valley, on 24 October 1947 the leaders of Poonch Rebellion 
declared their independence from the Dogra Rule The 
formation of State of "Azad Kashmir", under the 
presidentship of Mohammed Ibrahim Khan with Mirwaiz 
Mohammed Yusuf Khan as the Minister of Education, was 
proclaimed It was not an isolated event Instead, it was part 
of the 'Grand Design', a pre-planned, well-coordinated move 
in conjunction with developments in the Valley, an integral 
part of "Operation Gulmarg" — a euphemism for Pak Regular 
Army set-up Concurrently, the newly formed Government of 
Azad Kashmir declared that its forces had captured Mahura 
Power House barely 30 miles from Srinagar on the main road 
from Pakistan, thereby plunging not only the Capital but also 
the entire Valley into darkness 

The announcement of formation of this self proclaimed 
government was a historic development in itself, in as much 
as It was the forerunner of momentous events yet to take 
shape From this moment, the State of Jammu & Kashmir 
became symbolically divided into two separate entities Its 
long term implications seemed to have been lost on the then 
Government in Delhi, at least at that point of time, otherwise 
India would not have, or should not have wasted 2-3 more 
days in legal wrangling before dispatching military aid to the 
beleaguered State 


THE ACCESSION 

On the same day, 24 October 1947, Mr B L Batra, the 
Deputy Prime Minister of the State reached Delhi with the 
papers for Accession in his bag and an appeal for Indian 
military intervention, if possible without the formality of 
Accession Major General D K Palit, VrC, has recorded that 
"As a result of the Maharaja's appeal, the commanders of the 
Indian armed forces were directed on the morning of 24 
October 'to examine and prepare plans for sending troops to 
Kashmir by air and road ' During the afternoon the same day. 




210 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


staff officers of the army and air force accompanied Mr VP 
Menon (Adviser to the States Ministry) on a flight to Srinagar 
to consult with the Kashmir Government and military 
headquarters. At the same time, orders were issued to an 
infantry battalion to prepare itself to be flown, at short notice, 
to Srinagar."^ Howeve., this version does not completely tally 
with official records Nonetheless, General Palit's version 
appears to be nearer the factual position 

Batra had two letters with him from the Maharaja, one 
for Prime Minister Nehru and the other for Sardar Patel, both 
appealing for immediate military help In the evening he met 
the Indian leaders and conveyed the extremely critical nature 
of the developments in the Valley, and the overall dismal 
situation in the State. That evening Lord Mountbatten was 
attending a dinner reception in honour of the visiting Foreign 
Minister of what was then known as Siam, later Thailand, 
when Prime Minister Nehru took him aside to inform him of 
the full scale invasion of the Valley by Pathan tribesmen, and 
that It was a touch and go situation. 

Indian political leaders and the Cabinet were not yet 
geared up to facing an emergency situation, much less at 
quick decision making The matter was formally discussed m 
the meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet next 
morning Why not the same very night, whatever be the 
hour? In this meeting, the C-in-C General Sir Rob Lockhart 
informed them that his opposite number m Pakistan had sent 
him a belated message that about 5,000 tribesmen had 
entered the Kashmir Valley about 3 days earlier, and had 
ransacked Muzzaffarbad while on their way to Srinagar In 
point of fact, it was General Sir Frank Messervey who had 
personally signed the top secret D (D. letter addressed to 
Brigadier C.P Murray, Commander Bannu Frontier Brigade 
Group, amongst others, and received there as early as 20 
August 1947, in which he set out the plan for "Op Gulmarg" 
laying down the D Day as 22 October 1947.^ Another glaring 
example of astonishing British duplicity, cunning and 
downright professional disloyalty Can any body in his senses 



Indian Military Intervention 


211 


believe that between Lockhart and Messervey they did not 
know what was cooking for the past many weeks, and 
Lockhart had to wait for a formal belated report from his 
counterpart, and then this formal meeting, to alert the 
Government of India he was serving, about what was 
otherwise a matter of life and death for the new Dominion 
No wonder he was soon to be removed from this position 
But did the Governor General or the Prime Minister question 
him about this obvious act of perfidy and lack of professional 
integrity? No one in the Government could have dared to 
raise the question since "I must admit that Sir George 
Cunnigham, who had relieved Sir Rob Lockhart as Governor 
of the NWFP, sent warnings of the move of these tribesmen to 
General Lockhart, who had now become Commander-m- 
Chief of the Indian Army, but these warnings were vague 
In any case, these reports failed at the time to excite any 
feeling of undue alarm or concern in the Government of 
India Obviously, advance information of tribal invasion was 
available, but even Indian political leadership was not willing 
to heed the warning signals Then why blame the British 
alone’ 

Menon reached Srinagar on 25'” October morning along 
with Colonel K S Katoch and Wing Commander H C 
Dewan At the same time. Lieutenant Colonel SHFJ 
Manekshaw, MC, (Later Filed Marshal and Chief of Army 
Staff) of the Military Operations Directorate was also sent 
there for on the spot study of the situation While driving 
from the airfield to the Palace, Menon found the streets 
deserted, and the State police conspicuous by their absence 
He found the Maharaja completely unnerved and helpless In 
view of the fast moving developments taking place on the 
Uri-Srinagar road, Menon advised Han Singh to leave 
immediately with his family for Jammu, and to take his 
valuable possessions with him The Maharaja was only too 
willing to comply with this timely advice And the royal 
caravan on a royal exodus left that very night for Banihal and 
beyond 



272 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Early morning the next day, 26 ‘^ October, Menon 
accompanied by the State Prime Minister, Mr Mehr Chand 
Mahajan flew back to Delhi and drove straight from 
Safdarjang Airport to the residence of the Prime Minister 
Sheikh Abdullah was staying in the house of the Prime 
Minister, and Sardar Patel was already present there. Indeed, 
after all, a sense of urgency was m the air The stakes were 
high. It was a matter of touch and go how soon the invaders 
would be roaming in the streets of Srinagar inflicting the 
same savagery as they had in Baramula, and elsewhere during 
their recent sojourn through the Valley Beautiful It was any 
body's guess The fate of Kashmir hung in the balance. 

State Prime Minister Mehr Chand Mahajan was 
hypertense — requesting, beseeching, demanding, begging 
most immediate military help to save Kashmir and its hapless 
citizenry from the clutches of barbarous hordes, and its 
ultimate consumption by Pakistan. In fact, he was so 
persistent m his urging that he demanded military help to 
reach Srinagar that very afternoon of the 26 *^. Since the 
situation was indeed critical, Mahajan was quite justified in 
his assessment of the time factor, and hence his pleadings 
However, Prime Minister Nehru was in no mood to oblige 
more so since the Governor-General had insisted on 
completion of the modalities of accession, as also of 
ascertaining the wishes of the people before agreeing to the 
request for direct military intervention. Both parties were 
right in their own way Legalities and modalities are prime 
considerations for the elitist legal minds, and so it was in this 
meeting too, right or wrong ... 

Mahajan could no longer stand the strain of pressure and 
said, "Take the Accession and give whatever power you 
desire to the popular party. The Army must fly to save 
Srinagar this evening or else I will go to Lahore and negotiate 
terms with Mr. Jinnah."® On this outburst, Mr. Nehru also lost 
his temper, which in any case he was often wcmt to do, amJ. 
asked Mahajan to leave, when Sardar Patel who had a ^ood 
chemistry with Mahajan intervened to cool the tempers and 



saved the situation A dramatic element of Bollywood style 
was then injected in the proceedings when "Just then a slip of 
paper was passed on to Prime Minister Nehru It came from 
Sheikh Abdullah who was sitting in the adjacent room, 
listening to the conversation. Mahajan then records " He 
(Abdullah) now strengthened my hands by telling the Prime 
Minister that military help must be sent immediately The 
Prime Minister's attitude changed on reading this slip."^ 

In this connection it should be remembered that Mahajan 
was suspected to have played a pivotal role in allocating the 
three eastern tehsils of Gurdaspur district to India thereby 
providing geographical contiguity to the State with India, 
which was sine qua non for accession of the State to the 
Indian Union When viewed m this context, one has nothing 
but sympathy and praise for Mahajan's conduct In the 
meeting with Prime Minister Nehru who should therefore 
have given due consideration to the sentiments of the other 
person After all, Mahajan too had a personal stake in saving 
Kashmir for India; it could not possibly be the exclusive 
preserve of Pandit Nehru alone 

Nehru had blind faith m Abdullah In his eyes, Abdullah 
was Kashmir and Kashmir was Abdullah — at least at that 
point of time Abdullah was the sole embodiment of wishes 
of the people of Kashmir His charismatic personality, his 
considerable physical and political stature and affable nature 
were such that Prime Minister reposed complete faith in his 
judgement And so it was for accession, as well as for 
ascertaining the wishes of the people for which Lord 
Mountbatten too seemed to go along with Nehru's views on 
this tricky question. Pandit Nehru did place all his eggs in one 
basket alone, to the complete exclusion of any other 
personality, or alternative. But that is how the great Mr. 
Nehru was made ® 

Lord Mountbatten continued to be of the opinion that it 
was improper to move troops in what was technically still an 
independent entity. He could agree to the proposal of direct 


274 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


military help only after Kashmir had formally acceded to 
India, and that accession should be conditional on the 
holding of a plebiscite However, the next day Mountbatten 
seems to have mellowed down in his stand on this point, in 
as much as, instead of a plebiscite, "a reference to the 
people" became an acceptable option He informed " Han 
Singh that he was accepting the Instrument of Accession with 
the condition that after law and order had been restored, the 
question 'should be settled by a reference to the people'".® 

After the above stormy session at Prime Minister Nehru's 
residence, the proposal was put up before the Cabinet 
Committee on Defence chaired, as was the practice, by the 
Governor General; and it was unanimously approved Menon 
was once again asked to undertake his 'shuttle diplomacy' 
mission, this time to Jammu to complete the formalities of 
Accession 

The Maharaja concurred. In any case, at this point of 
time, he had absolutely no option at all. His pet dream of an 
independent "Switzerland of the East", militarily unviable 
because of fear of Russia and China, lay shattered before 
him, like a house of cards, in complete shambles, as was his 
bedroom where Menon was getting his signatures on the 
Instrument of Accession. The Maharaja also wrote down a 
letter to the Governor General "describing the pitiable plight 
of the State and reiterating his request for military help. He 
further informed the Governor General that it was his 
intention to set up an Interim Government at once and to ask 
Sheikh Abdullah to carry the responsibility in this emergency 
with Mahajan, his Prime Minister. The significance of 
Accession lay not so much in the signatures of the Maharaja, 
but in its endorsement by Sheikh Abdullah and his National 
Conference as well as the overwhelming support of the 
people of the Valley. 

Here, it is of great interest to note that the Dogra Dynasty 
had acquired the territory of Kashmir through a paper 
transaction from the British when, in fact, the British did not 



Indian Military Intervention 


215 


have physical possession of the same At that time in 1846 
the Dogras had to seek the assistance of outside forces to 
gain control of what the British had 'sold' to them Major 
Henry Lawrence had then led a force of 10,000 Sikhs of 
Lahore Darbar for the benefit of the Dogras Paradoxically 
enough, the same story was now being repeated Another 
paper transaction, the Instrument of Accession, transferring 
the rights of ownership without giving physical possession, 
and the Sikh soldiers of 1 Sikh to enforce that paper decree* 
History does repeat itself, in most bizarre sequences 

Menon was back in Delhi, the same evening, now setting 
in motion another entirely different drama with altogether 
different actors in a completely different environment 
However, before we change curtains to the new scene, a 
word about the controversy regarding the date and timing of 
signing of the Instrument of Accession vis-a-vis the despatch 
of Indian troops, as well as the part played by various leaders, 
particularly Nehru and Mountbatten in this episode Did the 
Indian troops land in Srinagar before the formal Instrument of 
Accession was concluded, or after? — a day this way or that 
IS the bone of contention amongst the academics and the 
historians the world over. And Alistaire Lamb has made much 
of this fine point of distinction in his two celebrated volumes 
on the subject", amongst a few others on the Northern and 
NorthEastern Frontiers of India. "It now transpires that Lamb 
was funded by a pro-Pakistan Kashmiri organisation in the UK 
to do this book " 

Be that as it may, the accession of the State to the 
Dominion of India was complete in 'law and fact'. The 
Accession was accepted by the Governor General and 
formalities thereof completed in exactly the same manner as 
was done in respect of any other Princely State. No favours 
granted, none whatsoever, except that a disfavour, a 
condition was imposed by the Governor General in his letter 
of acceptance of accession dated 27 October 1 947 addressed 
to the Mahara_ja that " .. It is my Government's wish that, as 
soon as law and order have been restored and the soil 


216 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


cleared of the invaders, the question of the State's accession 
should be settled by a reference to the people"^^ This is part 
of the official documents and is the legal position of the 
Government of India The omission of the word 'plebiscite' is 
significant and its place is taken by "a reference to the 
people". In this connection, behind the curtains 
developments between Prime Minister Nehru and Governor 
General Mountbatten are of great interest Regarding signing 
the Acceptance of Accession, the latter told the former, 

As a constitutional Governor General, I will only sign it at 
your request .. I will only countersign it on condition that 
you offer a plebiscite." This is all the more revealing since 
Mountbatten has admitted,"... honestly I wanted Kashmir to 
join Pakistan. For one simple reason, it made Pakistan more 
viable. . They had 85 percent Muslims 

In so far as the legal position is concerned, there was no 
provision for ascertaining the wishes of the people, nor was it 
mandatory to specify this in the letter of acceptance. It was 
not a part of the Instrument of Accession in any case It is 
Prime Minister Nehru who had brought in this element while 
dealing with Junagarh The term 'reference to the people' 
was obviously subject to different interpretations by different 
people at different times leading to controversies. Many 
people have assumed that what the Governor General had in 
mind was a plebiscite as was done in the case of NWFP and 
junagarh, while many Indian leaders including Pandit Nehru 
believed that installation of alternative government under 
Sheikh Abdullah and the subsequent elections were in 
themselves more than adequate expression of the wishes of 
the people. And that should close the argument, more so 
since the State is .part of the Indian Union, in law and fact. 
However, just for the sake of argument, let us assume that in 
a referendum the people of the State voted in favour of 
Pakistan. Could the Governor General, or Prime Minister 
Nehru, or any other authority possibly undo the Accession 
that was already complete in law and fact? Easier said than 
done' In any case Pandit Nehru saw the Accession supported 



Indian Military Intervention 


217 


by the Sheikh as a repudiation of the "Two Nation Theory" 
propounded by Jinnah in connivance with the British Taking 
the argument a step further during the preparations for 
Partition, North West Frontier Province, a Muslim majority 
area was under a pro-Congress (read secular, anti Jmnah) 
provincial government, but still a referendum was held from 
6-17 July 1947 However, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his 
Red Shirts decided to abstain since there was no option for a 
free Pathanistan While 289,244 voted for Pakistan and 2,874 
for India, the votes for Pakistan were assessed to be 50.49% 
of total electorate, and on the basis of that extremely small 
margin, the Province was awarded to Pakistan What if that 
small margin had gone against Pakistan It is all a matter of 
conjecture now, but at that time it did add to the negation of 
Jinnah's communal politics and British support for the same 
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, India's freedom fighter par 
excellence, spent most of his later life languishing in Pak jails, 
or in exile, and expressed his anguish over the Partition and 
Its aftermath in his book, "Thrown to the Wolves".’® 

As for Kashmir, "The uncertainty that has haunted 
Kashmir's post-independence ties with India is traceable to 
the overlapping but not identical motivations of, and 
countervailing pulls on, Nehru and Abdullah They were both 
charismatic, dominating, emotional personalities whose 
visions of future, often of the present, did not match realities 
on the ground They shared commitments to secularism and 
socio-economic change; they detested feudal rule and were 
obsessed with Kashmir, but not entirely for the same 
reasons . Nehru was anxious to fit Jammu and Kashmir into a 
secular nation, which it would strengthen. Abdullah was a 
Kashmiri nationalist driven by socialist rather than religious 
concerns. His primary concern was to end the centuries of 
exploitation and oppression that Kashmiris had suffered at 
the hand of rulers from outside the Valley, especially the 
latest, the Jammu based Dogra Dynasty."’® 

Pakistan could not reconcile to the idea of accession of 
Kashmir to the Union of India. How could she? In fact, it was 


278 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


not at all fair to expect Pakistan to do so As far back as 
January 1933 when the initial idea, the very concept of 
Pakistan was first mooted by Chaudhry Rehmat All at 
Emmanual College in the English university town of 
Cambridge, Kashmir was included in his imaginary country to 
be created in north-west India to be called Pakistan. The 
phrase was coined from a combination of letters of Punjab, 
Afghanistan (NWFP), Kashmir, Sindh and 'tan' from 
Baluchistan However, 'B' for Bengal was conspicuous for its 
absence from the proposed formation He and three other 
Muslim students then joined together to produce a four page 
pamphlet titled "Now or Never" advocating partition of the 
Indian sub-continent to create a separate homeland for 
Muslims And next year, Jinnah returned to India from his 
self-imposed exile in England to take charge of the then 
moribund Muslim League However, Rehmat All was just 
incidental. Kashmir was 75% Muslim and that by itself was 
the primary reason for the architects of the new Dominion to 
take It for granted that Kashmir would form part of their 
country After all, that alone was the basis of the Partition 
Plan. The* economy of Kashmir was so intimately intertwined 
with that of Pakistan by virtue of the surface communications 
and geographical factors that Kashmir outside of Pakistan 
could not be rationally conceived as an entity. Its products, 
goods and services all passed through Pakistan, so did its 
postal and banking services. In fact the entire economy of 
Jammu and Kashmir was linked to Pakistan alone, and to no 
other country. The logic of the State's situation 
overwhelmingly favoured integration with Pakistan. No 
wonder therefore that "There is a psychological hurt in the 
minds of the Pakistani establishment. They feel that Junagarh 
and Hyderabad, which were predominantly Non-Muslim 
States but had a Muslim ruler, were coerced by India to 
accede to India. Consequently, J&K which was predominantly 
inhabited by Muslims should have acceded to Pakistan" 

The announcement of the State's accession to India 
immediately gave rise to the security concerns of Pakistan on 


Indian Military Intervention 


219 


account the geo-strategic considerations For Pakistan, the 
southwestern border of the State was much too 
uncomfortably close to its mam corridor of road and rail 
network as well as its capital region Should any hostile 
power get control of that strategic region along Poonch-Kotli- 
Mirpur, the security of Pakistani Punjab and its major cities 
would be seriously jeopardized. The situation regarding the 
rivers and canal network, which was the lifeline of West 
Punjab, was also similarly affected With the State of Jammu 
and Kashmir in Indian hands, the potential threat as 
perceived by Pakistani rulers was indeed great. 

By the time accession finally became a reality, "Op 
Gulmarg" was in full swing The reasoning in Pakistan appears 
to have been that even if that operation succeeds in all its 
objectives, the potential threat to Pakistan's lifelines from 
Jammu region shall remain as strong as ever While during the 
reign of the Maharaja Srinagar occupied the place of pride in 
the State and the only importance of Jammu lay in its being 
the seat of Dogra Dynasty, in the completely altered scenario, 
Jammu became the focal point of strategy. Jammu-Kathua 
stretch of territory was the fulcrum since that was the only 
land route of access for India, kind courtesy the Radcliffe 
Award That was the nodal point for all military 
reinforcements, weapons and equipment, supplies and 
ammunition — indeed a new life line for the State that could 
soon be developed in due course in replacement of the 
Domel-Srinagar road to sustain military operations as well as 
the civil population. 

Jinnah's dream of celebrating Id-ul-Fitr in Srinagar on 
October 27 seemed to be petering out The prize in the 
Valley was still not in Pak hands and their time schedule had 
gone off the rails. Under the circumstances, the first thought 
of Pak strategists was to throttle Indian intervention at Jammu 
Itself and thus nip the evil in the bud, as the saying goes. This 
proposition was put forward not only by Akbar Khan, but by 
Jinnah too. The Governor General of Pakistan, Mr. 
Mohammed Ali Jinnah ordered an attack on Jammu in order 


220 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


to avoid open full-scale war between the two Dominions 
Lieutenant General Gracey, the then officiating C-in-C of Pak 
Army countermanded Jinnah's orders for direct intervention 
by Pak Army This should not be taken to mean that the 
British officers were playing an honest broker. Far from it, 
actually, the contrary was the case In fact, it was feared that 
launching of Pak Army against Jammu would provoke India to 
attack Pakistan mainland, which the latter could ill afford at 
that point of time. This fear, the risk of retaliation by India 
was to haunt Pakistan during 1948 also whenever Indian 
military fortunes were on the ascendancy''® 

The Air Lift 

By the time the dramatic process of Accession had run its 
full course and orders trickled down the chain of command 
to the level where real hard actions usually take place, it was 
late evening of October 26**' The cast of this fresh drama had 
absolutely no inkling of what was in store for them that night 
and for many more days and nights to come. Major S.K. 
Sinha (Later Lieutenant General and Vice Chief of Army Staff) 
was then a Grade II General Staff Officer on the staff of 
Lieutenant General Sir Dudley Russel, KBE,CB,DSO,MC, 
General Officer Commanding in Chief of the newly formed 
post-Independence Delhi & East Punjab Command It was 
around 10 00 pm by when eight staff officers could be 
assembled for an emergency meeting in the Operations 
Room of the Command Headquarters. It was a somewhat 
comical scene for army officers officially meeting for the first 
ever active operation to be undertaken by the Army of 
Independent India in defence of its own country — "most of 
us were dressed in our jackets and to add colour to our 
costumes, the duty officer was in pajama suits."^’ 

General Russell informed the meeting that the State of 
Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India and that his 
Command had been assigned the task of defending that State 
against invading tribesmen from Pakistan The first and 
foremost task before the meeting was to airlift one battalion 


Indian Military Inters/ention 


221 


group to Srinagar next morning using (R) lAF and civil airlines 
Dakota aircraft 1/5'^ Corkha Rifles (Frontier Force) had been 
ordered m the morning of 26“’ October to be ready at 
Safdarjang airport the next morning at 06 30 am for an 
operational commitment — flight to Srinagar This Battalion 
strength at that time was only 350 and so the Commanding 
Officer, Lieutenant Colonel A S Pathania, MC, decided to 
take only two rifle companies, the mortar platoon and some 
specialist personnel. Since the Battalion did not have any 
Indian officers, he enquired if he could take two British 
officers, one each as Adjutant and Quartermaster This was 
not agreed to, and the move orders for 1/5 GR were 
cancelled 

History had to repeat itself So it had to be the Sikhs 
Once again, the Sikhs as the saviours of Srinagar .. 

First Battalion of the Sikh Regiment was then deployed in 
nearby Curgaon on civil law and order duties like the rest of 
the Army in the two halves of Punjab. However, being the 
nearest available infantry unit in not too dispersed a state, it 
was selected for the job 

Perhaps, unknown to the officers attending the above 
meeting, the Army Airlift Committee in the Air Headquarters, 
responsible for overall supervision of this task, had its first 
meeting on 25‘“ October 1947 over which Air Marshal 
Elmhirst presided. The others who attended this meeting 
included Jo*nt Secretary Ministry of Defence, Director 
General Civil Aviation and his Deputy, Senior Air Staff Officer 
Air Vice Marshal S Mukerjee and Croup Captain Operations, 
Meher Singh. The Committee finalised the various 
arrangements connected with the proposed airlift of troops, 
arms, ammunition and military equipment to Srinagar. All 
available civilian Dakotas, about fifty in number were 
requisitioned. 

Notwithstanding the numerous constraints, which initially 
appeared to be almost insurmountable, the airlift operations 
proved to be a great success. In this connection there is 


222 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


incontrovertible evidence m the form of a joint statement by 
all the three Service Chiefs of India at the time. General R M 
Lockharst, Air Marshal TW. Elmhirst, Rear Admiral J TS Hall, 
all British officers — "On 24 October the Commander-in- 
Chief, Indian Army received information that tribesmen had 
seized Muzzaffarabad This was the first indication of the 
raids Prior to this date, no plans of any sort for sending 
Indian forces into Kashmir had been formulated, or even 
considered. 

Information was most scanty Time factor was the crux of 
the problem The urgency was indeed great which can be 
easily gauged from the following Warning Order^® issued to 
the Commanding Officer, 1 Sikh, Lieutenant Colonel Dewan 
Ranjit Rai 

"Your battalion less two companies will concentrate 
Palam airfield by 0400 hours 27 October ( ) One battery 13 
Field Regiment in infantry role being placed under your 
command (.) Be prepared to fly on an operational mission ex 
Palam morning 27 October (.) Remainder Battalion will be 
flown 28 October (.) Operation Instruction will be handed 
over at airfield (.) Ammunition, rations and warm clothing will 
be issued at Airfield under arrangements this Headquarters 

DTO (Date, Time of Origin) has been a matter of 
controversy. From Sin ha's account it appears to have been 
late at night 26* October, Alistair Lamb claims it to be at 1 
pm that day. It is well on the cards that the latter version is 
nearer the factual position 

A similar emergency signal message was sent to 50 Para 
Brigade for induction to Jammu by road from Pathankot via 
Kathua —Samba by the 'Tonga Road". It was also decided that 
the Valley would be built up to one brigade group before the 
onset of winter 

Having set the ball rolling, the immediate task before the 
General Staff was to make out an Operations Instruction for 
the Battalion Commander to be delivered to him at the 
Airfield next morning. The Army Commander personally 
drafted the tasks of CO 1 Sikh as under. 


Indian Military Intervention 


223 


* "Secure Srinagar airfield and civil aviation wireless 
station, 

* Take such action as your first task and available 
troops allow to drive tribesmen away from Srinagar, 

* aid the local government in the maintenance of law 
and order in Srinagar"-* 


The usual opening paragraph of an op instruction is 
information about the enemy The irony of the situation was 
that the only available information was that a large number of 
tribesmen had invaded the Kashmir Valley and that they were 
heading for Srinagar That's all! If Srinagar was ignorant of 
such elementary information as to the mode of transport, 
how far from Srinagar they were, and their weapons and 
equipment, Delhi was equally clueless about the details even 
five days after the Invasion was launched. Obviously; the 
British senior staff officers at Army Headquarters in Delhi 
were not doing what they should have been doing as a 
matter of routine. 

The Op Instruction further stated that if the Battalion did 
not receive the signal to land in Srinagar, it would go to 
Jammu, from there requisition local transport and go as far 
North as possible. A rather strange order emanating from a 
Command Headquarters to a Battalion* From the level of a 
C O.C -in-C of the calibre of General Russel who had earlier 
commanded 8'** Indian Division in Italy with distinction, and 
lately was in command of 5 Infantry Division In japan as part 
of Allied Occupation Force, when the Indian Independence 
and consequent change in policy led to the early withdrawal 
of the Division to its home base in Ranchi. Wisdom of 
hindsight? Yes, indeed. By 25* October it was more or less 
certain that Indian military intervention in the State was 
inevitable- The next morning it was a foregone conclusion. 
Therefore, it was a matter of simple military prudence that at 
least on the 26* fighter reconnaissance mission(s) should 
have flown over the Valley. C-in-C (R) I.A.F. Air Marshal T.W. 


224 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Elmhirst should have ordered such a mission, may be he 
would have had to obtain concurrence of the Governor 
General in the matter But that was no big deal Since the Air 
Force had not done what they should have done. General 
Lockhart should have insisted on this elementary military 
action because his troops, even though Indian, were being 
thrown into active operations under the most exceptional 
circumstances Above all, when all this top brass had not 
reacted correctly. General Russel should have asked for such 
a mission, if not on the 26 '*’ then at least early morning next 
day Indeed, a serious omission at all levels of higher 
command 

Fortunately, the raiders had kept themselves busy at 
Baramula and had not occupied Srinagar airstrip by the time 
Indian airlift got under way In this connection it is of interest 
that concurrently with the issuance of orders by the Governor 
General for military intervention, the British Government in 
London issued their instruction that no British officer would 
accompany troops moving into Jammu and Kashmir State, for 
the simple reason that they did not want to see their officers 
pitted against one another. Sounds very plausible (') but does 
not stand the test of rational analysis. Since Pakistan was 
vehemently insisting that only tribal volunteers of their own 
volition were going to Srinagar to liberate their Muslim 
brethren, and that her regular troops were not at all involved 
in the State, where was the question of British officers 
accompanying Indian foops to the State being pitted against 
British officers from the opposite side? What was the rational 
basis for this assumption by the British Imperial Government 
in London? Obviously, the British knew the truth all along, 
they were merely playing hide and seek with the truth.... 

Besides the absence of intelligence, there were many 
other handicaps under which this operation was being 
launched, chief of which in the present context were — 
extremely short notice resulting in complete lack of 
preparation, an extremely difficult and long line of 
communication; difficult unfamiliar terrain and complete 


Indian Military Intervention 


225 


absence of training, organisation and equipment to fight in 
such a terrain, impending severe winter conditions, divided 
and dispersed state of the Indian Army deployed on peculiar 
civilian law and order and refugee evacuation duties, et al. 
Indeed, "Seldom in the history of warfare has any operation 
been launched with no previous preparation in the face of so 
many handicaps"^^ 

Well before the early morning rays of the sun could usher 
in the D Day for India's first military operation led by its own 
officers in defence of their own country, Palam Airfield was 
bustling with hectic military activity Air Commodore S. 
Mukerjee was there to supervise the arrangements for air lift, 
so was Brigadier Hiralal Atal designated as Liaison Officer to 
the Kashmir Government, specially and personally nominated 
and briefed by Prime Minister Nehru himself The load 
manifest for the very first flight included the leading elements 
of 1 Sikh, their C.O. Lieutenant Colonel Rai, and Brigadier 
Atal. They took off at 6 30 am, in a DC3 aircraft piloted by a 
young flight lieutenant. It was a historic flight, if ever there 
was one 

The aircraft was over Srinagar around 9 00 am. "While 
circling round the city and its surroundings we could see no 
movement at all of men and vehicles — it looked like a dead 
city. As we approached to land, I was astonished to see a 
multitude of human beings emerging as if from the earth; 
they had all taken cover — very effectively..." On landing, 
they were greeted by an Indian Army officer whose services 
had been lent to the State Government and the Acting Chief 
of Staff of the State Forces who briefed Colonel Rai 

The Dakota aircraft in which Brigadier Atal landed at 
Srinagar was later sent to Baramula for a quick aerial 
reconnaissance. On landing back, the pilot reported that "... 
there was no movement whatsoever on the road to Srinagar 
and that Baramula was aflame at places and smouldering in 
others Wheit the British top Brass should have done, was 
achieved by an Indian Brigadier with whatever means at his 
disposal 


226 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


About 300 troops with their arms, ammunition and 
equipment were airlifted that first day in 28 Dakota sorties, a 
commendable performance from any standards It was an 
impressive airlift comprising of Dakotas of the Air Force and 
of private airlines flown by civilian pilots The pilots had not 
been familiar with the ^o called airfield at Srinagar, m fact 
Badgom dirt airstrip v th absolutely no support facilities like 
navigational aids, radar, refueling facilities, fire tenders, etc 
All that was there by way of communication facility was the 
Civil Aviation Department's wireless station A NCO of the 
State Forces equipped with an altimeter gauge constituted 
the Air Traffic Control' Since there were no refueling facilities 
at all, initially this had to be done by jerrycans The pilots 
were not familiar with mountainous approach to the Valley, 
while enroute they had to clear the Banihal Pass, which at it's 
lowest, was 9,300 ft AMSL To further compound the bad 
situation, clouds of dust rose on the runway on landing and 
take off, obscuring the view for the following sorties One 
captain and two havildars of Bengal Sappers managed to get 
some water sprinkled on the dusty strip to mitigate the 
problem And that was the beginning of rudimentary 
maintenance of the Airstrip 

While 1 Sikh was landing in Srinagar, 50 Para Brigade 
started moving by road to Jammu Since it had already been 
decided that Srinagar would be built upto a brigade group, 
the next battalion to follow the Sikhs was 1 Para Kumaon 
Like the Sikhs, this Battalion was also operating m Gurgaon 
area when the orders for their move to Srinagar came The 
Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Geofrey Beer being 
a British officer was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Pritam 
Singh, MC, (Later Brigadier) at Safdarjung airport a few hours 
before the Dakotas carrying the Battalion headquarters and 
two rifle companies took off on 29*** October The next day 
the other two rifle companies of the Battalion landed at 
Srinagar along with a cxjmpany of Mahar MMGs and two 3 7" 
howitzers The fly in of 4 Kumaon commenced on 31 
October with Ma^or Som Nath Sharma's 'D' Company being 



Indian Military Intervention 


227 


the first to arrive along with the remaining personnel of 1 
Para Kumaon 

The burden of administrative arrangements at the 
despatching end in Delhi was the responsibility of "Delhi 
Area Headquarters who fortunately had three young junior 
Indian Commissioned Officers (ICOs) on their staff. It was 
their Herculean efforts and high sense of duty, which enabled 
our troops to receive adequate arms, ammunition, clothing 
and rations in the early stages The attitude of the senior staff 
officers, who were British, was one of general indifference as 
they must have felt that this war was none of their business 
. A young Ordnance Officer of Delhi Area issued out 
ammunition from Red Fort emergency reserves at his own 
risk and responsibility, without the authority of his British 
superiors so that it could be flown out to the troops in time. 

The courage and devotion of civil and military pilots who 
flew day in and day out, every day, without much rest to 
themselves or their aircraft, which received very little 
maintenance, was most impressive. This operation speaks 
volumes for the efficiency and competence of the pilots and 
their ground support elements. "An entire brigade,! 61 under 
Brig L.P Sen, DSO, was airlifted within five days. Dakotas did 
the transportation and fighters and fighter-bombers, spitfires, 
Tempests and even Harvards gave ground support to the 
Army — then and right through the year. The Airlines, their 
pilots, crew and technicians were also requisitioned to help 
with the airlift and they did a magnificent job. Air Marshal 
Elmhirst was at the helm of this emergency project and Air 
Cdre Meher Singh was at the head of the Operational Group. 
In the history of aviation, there are few events to match this 
achievement."^^ 

There was widespread jubilation and celebration in 
Srinagar and neighbouring towns and villages after the Indian 
troops started landing at Badgom. The people of Srinagar 
heaved a sigh of relief. Bands of local volunteers had formed 
themselves into 'mohalla tolies' and mustered to the clarion 



228 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


call of "Shaheed Ho". They helped in maintaining law and 
order and kept vigil at strategic points The population was 
well disciplined, and under the guidance and control of the 
local National Conference leaders, notably Bakshi Ghulam 
Mohamed, G.M Sadiq and D P Dhar, who offered full 
cooperation by way of transport and guides. It should be 
noted that air transported troops did not have any vehicles at 
all and were totally dependent on the civil transport, both for 
their operational and administrative needs And Sheikh 
Abdullah and his National Conference rose to the occasion 
admirably The situation here was in marked contrast to the 
attitude of the Poonchi, Baltistani and Jammu Muslims 

The First Encounters 

The initial delay and dilly-dallying by the Indian Cabinet 
in coming to the aid of the State was more than made up by 
the efficiency, courage and devotion of the Indian pilots, civil 
and military alike. And 1 Sikh rose above all of them Within 
minutes of landing and getting his command together. 
Colonel Rai deployed one rifle company to secure the 
airfield. At about 2 pm he led the other two companies, one 
of his own Battalion and the other of the gunners who too 
were otherwise Sikhs, forward in the true Sikh offensive 
spirit. In the vehicles provided by the National Conference 
set-up at Srinagar, this force soon reached the position held 
by remnants of the State Forces numbering about 1 00 on a 
ridge about one mile south-east of Baramula It was here, 
about one mile east of Baramula that the first engagement 
between Indian troops and Pak invaders took place on the 
27 ^*' of October 1947. And both were surprised — The 
Pakistanis were surprised by the sudden appearance of 
regular Indian Army troops which they least expected, and 
Colonel Rai was surprised by the well equipped well 
organised raiders, obviously led by professionals, and armed 
with machine guns and 3" mortars. In fact. Major Khurshid 
Anwar who had been earlier cashiered from the undivided 
Indian Army for embezzlement of mess founds was 
commanding the enemy forces. 



Indian Military Intervention 


229 


Colonel Rai soon realised that here he was up against a 
numerically far superior enemy, well equipped, armed and 
led He therefore decided to withdraw about two miles east 
of Baramula and took up hurried defences on the low hills 
astride the main road. 

Colonel Rai's bold move forward to the gates of Baramula 
and the short engagement there imposed a certain degree of 
caution on the enemy thereby gaming some time However, 
he soon found that enemy's outflanking movements were 
endangering his hastily prepared defences and therefore he 
decided to withdraw to Rattan, half way between Baramula 
and Srinagar, by the evening of the next day By that time, the 
Sikhs had already caused at least one day's delay on the 
enemy's advance to Badgom Airstrip, which was of most vital 
significance for further build up of Indian military strength 
While withdrawing his Rear Party to a pre-reconnoitered lay 
back position. Colonel Rai was mortally wounded. 
Unfortunately, his body could not be recovered One subedar 
of the mortar platoon and two Other Ranks (OR) were also 
killed in the same action while 15 others who were wounded 
were evacuated to Badami Bagh Cantonment Military 
Hospital in Srinagar 

Captain Lichmore, the Adjutant of the Sikhs, on his own 
initiative sent out 'B' Company to reinforce the Battalion 
position But 1 Sikh after withdrawing from Baramula and the 
death of their C.O. did not take up defences south of Rattan. 
Instead, the embussed column came within seven miles of 
the City when they were intercepted by the Battalion 
Second-in-Command, Major Sampuran Bachan Singh who 
assumed command of the Battalion and took the column 
back to Rattan where they took up defences around 3.00 am 
29'^ October. The Adjutant had also sent out an officer patrol 
at 8.00 pm 28*^ October along the road Srinagar-Thunmarg as 
far as Magam, and then a few miles beyond Rattan. They 
reported that enemy had not contacted Rattan till then. 
Brigadier Atal's presence at the Battalion headquarters at the 
Airfield that evening went a long way in stabilising the 


230 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Otherwise quite tricky situation It later transpired that 1 Sikh 
abandoned the Rattan position after 60 odd State Forces 
troops holding that position had told the Sikhs that they had 
been ordered to return to Srinagar which, of course, was not 
a correct statement 

Meanwhile, Brigadier Atal had been busy in Srinagar 
meeting various political personalities He had exchanged a 
number of messages with Prime Minister Nehru about the 
prevailing civil situation in the City In the message bearing 
DTO 281030 sent by name to Mr Nehru, he suggested to the 
Prime Minister that air attacks on road Baramula-Srinagar be 
resorted to, and that small reconnaissance planes be 
stationed at Srinagar airfield to undertake periodic 
reconnaissance missions since practically no enemy 
intelligence was available Further, "Very evident that Kashmir 
Maharaja Government not functioning So-called Governor 
Major Pritam Singh and Rao Ratan Singh 1 G P are supposed 
to constitute the Government, they are completely 
demoralised The mass exodus of their families and those of 
other high officials has caused panic National Conference 
with Abdullah and Bakshi a tireless worker are doing yeoman 
work and personally consider it essential that some form of 
recognised Government be formed early Baramula captured 
by attackers yesterday afternoon 3 PM and set on flames I 
request you to have an Indian on General Russel's Staff as his 
Brigadier General Staff and that Brigadier Mellsop be relieved 
immediately Colonel L P Sen is the name I suggest " The 
replies from Prime Minister were equally long, if not longer 
still including a rather longish letter addressed to "My Dear 
Hiralal" in which the Prime Minister mentioned "I am asking 
for the return immediately of Bijji Kaul from Washington 
It was Kashmiriyat all the way' 

On the other side of the curtain, "The swift airlift upset 
Jinnah's applecart When the invasion began, he was at 
Abbottabad and expected to ride in triumph into Kashmir 
On hearing of the landings of Indian troops at Srinagar he 
was furious General Sir Douglas Gracey was at the time 


Indian Military Intervention 


231 


acting as Pakistan's Commander-m-Chief m the temporary 
absence of General Messervey. Jmnah at once ordered 
Gracey to send regular troops into Kashmir This order was 
sent to him on the night of 27 October through the Military 
Secretary to the Governor of West Punjab, with whom Jmnah 
at the time was staying Gracey replied that he was not 
prepared to issue such instructions without the approval of 
the Supreme Commander, Field Marshal Sir Claude 
Auchinleck. Since armies of both the Dominions were under 
one supreme command, Auchinleck could possibly not issue 
an order that would tantamount to approving an Inter- 
Dominion war At Gracey's request, Auchinleck flew into 
Lahore the next day and explained to Jmnah the military 
issues involved He told him that on account of the State's 
accession to India, the latter's Government had a perfect 
right to send in troops m response to the Maharaja's request 
He further explained that any intervention by Pakistani troops 
would amount to an invasion and 'would involve 
automatically and immediately the withdrawal of every 
British officer serving with the newly formed Pakistan Army' 
The Pakistan Army at this time was relying more heavily on 
British officers than the Indian Army. The advice, therefore, 
had Its effect on Jmnah and he cancelled his orders. Thus, a 
confrontation between the regular forces of India and 
Pakistan was averted for the time being. 

In order to further defuse the situation, Mountbatten 
accompanied by Lord Ismay visited Lahore on November 
for a meeting with Jmnah. Prime Minister Nehru and his 
Deputy Sardar Patel both found excuses not to accompany 
their Governor General, much that the latter wanted them to. 
The meeting took place m an atmosphere of extreme 
suspicion and distrust. Mr. Jmnah put forward a 3-point 
proposal: 

1 . Cease-fire within 48 hours. 

2 Withdrawal of Indian forces and the tribesmen. 


J-iJ. 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


3 Plebfscite under the joint control of the two 
Governors General (i.e , Jinnah and Mountbatten) without 
any influence of Sheikh Abdullah and Indian Army. 

Mountbatten asked Jinnah the common sense question of 
how he could be responsible for withdrawing the tribesmen 
when he had no control over them as professed by him' In 
turn, Mountbatten suggested a plebiscite under the auspices 
of the United Nations but Jinnah promptly rejected the idea. 

Indian military assistance was given ".. in return not only 
for accession but also for the agreement (crucial in the eyes 
of Jawahar Lai Nehru) that the Maharaja would entrust to 
Sheikh Abdullah the task of forming an Emergency 
Government under the Prime Ministership of Mahajan."^^ 
Maharaja Han Singh adhered to this agreement and 
appointed Sheikh Abdullah as head of the Emergency 
Government with the title of Chief Emergency Administrator 
with Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed as his Deputy and Mirza 
Afzal Beg continuing as Minister. This arrangement under the 
supervision of Mahajan continued till 5 March 1948 when 
Sheikh Abdullah was appointed Prime Minister at the head of 
an Interim Government of the State 

When the action in Baramula-Pattan area was being 
fought, airlift was in full swing. Indian Dakotas were landing 
with clockwork regularity every 45 minutes Incoming 
Dakotas were bringing in troops and military hardware while 
returning flights were evacuating all those who wanted to 
leave Skeleton Headquarters 161 Infantry Brigade had 
landed in the meantime. Brigadier J.C. Katoch landed on the 
29‘^ and immediately assumed command of all troops in the 
Valley. He was accompanied by Colonel L P. Sen, then 
Officiating Director of Military Intelligence at Army 
Headquarters who had come on a quick visit to collect 
operational information and report back to Brigadier Thapar, 
Director Military Operations, the same evening at Delhi. The 
same day, 29* October 161 Infantry Brigade Signal Section 
reported an excellent piece of news; wireless 
communications had been established with Delhi, 


Indian Military Intervention 


233 


A sniper bullet on the 31st wounded brigadier Katoch 
who had barely assumed command on 29th October. The 
Indian Army evacuated him to Delhi, the third senior officer 
casualty within 3-4 days of commencement of operations. 
And the situation was changing so fast, reinforcements flying 
in at such a rapid pace that the Brigade saw three different 
officiating Brigade Commanders within 48 hours of Katoch 
becoming a casualty, all because senior lieutenant colonels 
kept arriving one after the other' 

At this time, the division of armed forces between the 
two Dominions was still in progress Sub-units and personnel 
were being changed over from one to the other as per their 
religious affiliations and personal choice. " .many infantry 
battalions were a hotchpotch of sorts The final position was 
that 1 (P’ara) Punjab had two companies from Pak 1/12 
Frontier Force Regiment, and 1 Sikh had men from Pak 1/1 
Punjab and 3/15 Punjab, besides the gunners temporarily 
attached to it. Even 4 Kumaon had a Dogra Company from 4/ 
13 Frontier Force Rifles."^® 

It was the 1 Sikh[now in full strength] that was holding a 
strong well-prepared defensive position on high ground 
astride the main road at Pattan Since it was important for the 
enemy to clear the mam axis, three determined attacks 
supported by 3" mortars were launched against the Pattan 
defences but the enemy did not succeed in dislodging the 
Sikhs. As a last resort, the raiders bypassed the defences with 
a northern diversionary hook via Bandipur- Gandharbal 
under a Subedar Major, and made their way by the mam 
road towards Srinagar. Concurrently, a strong southern 
movement via Bacfgom under Captain Sher Mohammed, a 
defector from the State Forces, posed a serious threat to the 
airfield Thus the enemy main thrust reached Badgom, a few 
miles from the airfield About 700 raiders took cover m the 
village and disguised themselves as Kashmiris in long flowing 
robes. 


234 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


With the evacuation of Brigadier Katoch to Delhi as a 
battle casualty, it was urgently necessary that a new brigade 
commander be positioned immediately to take charge of all 
operations in and around Srinagar. The officiating Director of 
Military Intelligence at Army Headquarters, Colonel L P Sen, 
DSO, was appointed in his place He took over command of 
161 Infantry Brigade on 2"^' November with 'temporary rank' 
of Brigadier 

On return from Srinagar on 29 October 1947, Colonel 
Sen reported to the Director of Military Operations, Brigadier 
Thapar of the grim military situation at Srinagar It was a 
touch and go matter and Sen informed Thapar of the 
situation as he had assessed it based on the information he 
had gathered. The same day, unknown to these officers. 
Prime Minister Nehru had deputed a Kashmiri officer to visit 
Srinagar and to report back to him. During his short stay of a 
couple of hours at Srinagar airfield, this officer had not even 
met the Brigade Commander, or the Battalion Commander, 
nor visited any forward positions, and reported an optimistic 
picture of the situation to the Prime Minister direct without 
informing his military superiors. And he had done that before 
Colonel Sen even returned to Delhi. 

The same evening Brigadier Thapar sent his latest 
assessment of the situation to the Prime Minister who was 
justifiably upset over the two conflicting reports from two 
senior Army officers The session with the Prime Minister was 
quite stormy that night! Prime Minister Nehru's such 
infringement of military chain of command was not to remain 
a solitary instance in the history of this country, while for Sen 
this controversial incident was not a favourable start in his 
new challenging assignment. 

However, the second incident the next day was certainly 
more auspicious — Mahatma Gandhi wanted an intelligence 
briefing on the developments m Kashmir Accordingly, 
Colonel Sen called on the Mahatma. His parting remarks to 
the Colonel were quite significant and appropriate to the 



Indian Military Intervention 


235 


Situation "Wars are a curse to humanity They are so utterly 
senseless They bring nothing but suffering and destruction " 
On being asked what he, Colonel Sen should do in Kashmir, 
Gandhi smiled and replied, "You are going in to protect 
innocent people, to save them from suffering, and their 
property from destruction To achieve that you must naturally 
make use of all means at your disposal 

A Brigade is deployed 

The new Commander of 161 Infantry Brigade Colonel 
L P Sen, DSO took off from Safdarjang Airport in the early 
hours of 2"‘‘ November amongst rumours at the airport that 
Badgom airstrip had fallen into enemy hands, but landed 
safely at the other end without an incident By this time, 
substantial reinforcement had arrived in Srinagar 
Nonetheless, the situation was quite dismal since a large 
enemy force had already outflanked the Rattan defences and 
was knocking at the gates of the airfield as we have already 
seen. 

1 Kumaon, being a Para Battalion was only 650 strong It 
also had two rifle companies of 4 Kumaon and was 
responsible for the defence of the airfield 1 Para Punjab 
under command of Lieutenant Colonel C I.S Khullar was 
much under strength at this time and had only 450 
personnel. This Battalion was deployed at Magam, 12 miles 
from Srinagar astride the road to Culmarg In addition, the 
Brigade had one mountain battery from Patiala State Forces, 
which the Maharaja of Patiala had sent to the Maharaja of 
Jammu and Kashmir as a friendly assistance. Unfortunately, 
the mountain gunners had come without the dial sights for 
their guns, and hence the four 3 7<t<t guns were a hindrance 
than an asset at the Airfield. However, the mountain gunners 
were asked to fire two rounds of High Explosive and one of 
smoke into the blues, every now and then, in the general 
direction of enemy concentrations without any aim just as a 
morale boosting exercise. 


236 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Besides the above, about 100 troops of Maharaja's 
bodyguards, a purely ceremonial unit were also available It 
will be seen that by 2-3 November 1947, Brigadier Sen had a 
good part of four-infantry battalions worth of troops available 
to him This does not include 2,000 reasonably trained, 
armed and organised State Forces personnel in Badami Bagh 
Cantonment of whose presence none of the Indian 
commanders had any knowledge whatsoever 

By this time the raiders had fanned out of Baramula 
enroute to the Capital, setting villages on fire to announce 
their entry into the Valley, accompanied by plunder, loot and 
rape at will. They were guided to their rendezvous by light 
signals from friendly sources. Their physical appearance and 
overwhelming strength of numbers was enough to cause 
panic and alarm However, Emergency Government of 
Sheikh Abdullah was in full control of the situation in the City 
and its suburbs They rendered full assistance by way of 
passenger buses, lorries, trucks and guides being placed at 
the disposal of the Brigade. But it was the acute shortage of 
petrol that often was a stumbling block. Decanting from the 
Dakotas, which brought m men and materials, was one of the 
unorthodox methods adopted to get this precious commodity 
to keep the troops moving. 

This in brief was the general state of troops-deployment 
when Brigadier Sen assumed command at Srinagar The 
operational situation of course had turned pretty serious and 
grim by now. The airfield defences were directly threatened 
by overwhelming numbers and so was the capital. Both 
threats were being developed simultaneously. Infiltration by 
large parties of enemy was a serious cause for concern. The 
Brigade Commander had barely taken charge, hardly known 
his command let alone seen them. Well, these are the 
mercurial ironies of life, the vagaries of war... 

Patrolling was being done to cover the gaps between the 
defences at the airport and since the patrol action had 
achieved its aim, one company of 4 Kumaoh was withdrawn 



Indian Military Intervention 


237 


to the airfield, leaving one company under Major Sharma to 
hold on to the firm base Major Sharma reported all quiet on 
the Badgom front The movements in the village appeared 
normal, nothing suspicious whatsoever Suddenly, about half 
an hour before the thinning out time, the firm base was fired 
at from some houses in the village However, Major Sharma 
did not return the fire for fear of causing injury to women 
and children in the village This ineffective intermittent firing 
continued for some time It later transpired that this was 
meant to distract the firm base from the main attack, which 
was developing from the west 

About 2 30 pm on November 1947 the enemy, about 
700 strong disguised as Kashmiris, their weapons hidden 
under their loose cloaks, attacked this firm base position and 
over-ran the defences resulting in most of the personnel 
being killed or wounded By about 5 pm this position was 
reinforced by another company of 1 Para Kumaon, but it was 
too late Major Sharma and his Company fought to the 
'proverbial last man last round' in which he earned his 
posthumous Param Vir Chakra, the Republic's highest award 
for gallantry Another outstanding act of gallantry that day was 
by Sepoy Dewan Singh who, even though wounded like his 
Company Commander, picked up a bren gun and killed 
fifteen of the enemy single-handed He was posthumously 
awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, the second hignest gallantry 
award of Independent India 

This Battle of Badgom was an extremely costly episode 
for the Brigade, particularly the new Commander for whom it 
was the opening round of this campaign However, the 
enemy too had suffered heavy casualties and the toll on his 
morale was greater because of close air support provided by 
the Spitfires operating from Srinagar Airfield The enemy did 
not exploit his success to occupy the heights dominating the 
airfield It was a piece of good luck for India to have been 
able tb save the airfield that evening Perhaps, the enemy 
thought that the Indian positions in Humbom-Badgom sector 
were stron.gly hehit and therefore decided to withdraw to 



238 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


their favourite haunts of Baramula. Either way, it was a 
blessing in disguise for the Brigade, but the situation was still 
not free from danger There was no room for complacency 
since the enemy forces were still in tact, and in good shape. 

It was just a coincidence that next morning the Deputy 
Prime Minister, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel accompanied by the 
Defence Minister, Sardar Baldev Singh visited Srinagar and 
came to the Brigade Operations Room (Ops Room) for a 
briefing While reviewing the developments of the night 
before, when Srinagar was definitely threatened and loss of 
the airfield was well on the cards, but for the unexpected 
hesitation on the part of the enemy. Brigadier Sen addressing 
the Defence Minister asked, "Am I expected to eject the 
tribesmen from the Valley regardless of the fate that may 
befall Srinagar, or is the town to be saved?" Before the 
Defence Minister could reply, Sardar Patel who otherwise 
seemed to be disinterested if not snoozing, snapped back 
emphatically, "Of course Srinagar must be saved 

Before leaving the Ops Room Sardar Patel informed the 
Brigade Commander that he would get whatever additional 
resources he had asked for, as soon as possible. And true to 
his word and reputation of a man of action, the same evening 
a message was received at the Brigade Headquarters from 
Delhi that two infantry battalions, one squadron armoured 
cars and a battery of field artillery were on their way up by 
road. This quick road movement had become possible 
because, while exciting events of far reaching significance 
were taking place in and around Srinagar, construction of an 
all weather road from Pathankot to Jammu was progressing at 
a frantic pace by the combined efforts of civil and military 
engineers. 15 Field Company Engineers completed a 180-ft 
Bailey Pontoon Bridge Over River Ravi at Madhopur on 2"'' 
November. 37 Assault Field Company and elements of 32 
Field Company was positioned at Ramban, which was 
another major bottleneck. A number of detachments of field 
engineers were deployed under comman?J of JAK Div 
Engineers all along the road from Madhqpur onwards rj^t 
upto Banihal Pass to take care of the road and bridges. 



Indian Military Intervention 


239 


With Srinagar Airfield safely in Indian hands, and 
substantial reinforcements particularly by way of armour and 
artillery already on their way up, besides the fighter aircraft 
providing excellent close air support, events were moving at a 
fast pace towards the first most decisive Battle of this War 


NOTES & REFERENCES 

1 Initially, the intelligence wizards in Delhi could not figure out 
where Fort Owen was, and therefore by default, the information 
could not be put to any use 

2 Liaqat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister and Defence Minister of 
Pakistan hailed from UP (India). 

3 Palit D K VrC, Major General; "Jammu and Kashmir Arms. His- 
tory of J & K Rifles", Palir & Dutt Publishers, Dehradun, 1972, 
p 196 

4.Kalkat OS., "The Far Flung Frontiers"; Allied Publishers, New 
Delhi, 1983, p.29 

5 Menon VP, "The Story of the Integration of the Indian States", 
Longmans,London, 1956, p 414 

6 Bhattacharjea Ajit, "KASHMIR The Wounded Valley", UBS Pub- 
lishers' Distributors, New Delhi, 1994,p 139 

7 Mahajan, Mehr Chand; "Looking Back. An Autobiography", Asia 
Publishing House, New Delhi, 1963, pp151-52. 

8. Prime Minister Nehru followed exactly a similar prescription 
when he was faced with a crisis in 1962. He again put all his eggs 
in one basket held by Lieutenant General BM (Bijji) Kaul and Mr 
B N. Mullik, once again with disastrous results of course, a repeti- 
tion of the drama in Kashmir. In the end, the Nation paid a heavy 
price for the series of blunders committed by the Indian political 
leadership over the decades 


240 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


9 Bhattarharjea Ajit, op cit p 141 

10 Menon VP, "The Story of Integration of the Indian States", 
Orient Longman, New Delhi, 1985, pp 398-400 

11 Lamb, Alistair, "Kashmir A Disputed Legacy", Oxford Books, 
UK 1991 and Karachi, 1993 Also, "Crisis in Kashmir 1947-66", 
Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1966 

12 Chibber M L , Lieutenant General, "Pakistan's Criminal Folly in 
Kashmir", Manas Publications, New Delhi, 1998, p 59 

1 3 Grover Verinder, "The Story of Kashmir Yesterday and Today" 
Vol III, Deep & Deep Publications, New Delhi, 1995, p 109 

14 Rajendra Nath, Major General, "Military Leadership in India", 
Lancer Books, New Delhi 1990,p265 quoting Larry Collins and 
Domonique Lapierre in "Mountbatten and Independent India", 
pp 39, 142 and 146 

15 Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, "Thrown to the Wolves" 

1 6 Bhattacharjea, op cit p 6 

17 Kadian, Rajesh, The Kashmir Tangle, Vision Books , New 
Delhi,1 992, p 55, and Bhattacharjea Ajit, op cit p 86 

18 Chibber M L , op at , p 51 

19 Akbar Khan,DSO, Major General, " Raiders in Kashmir", Army 
Publishers, Delhi/Karachi, 1970, pp 90-98 

20 Lieutenant Colonel Iskander Mirza was an officer in the Politi- 
cal Department of the British Government in India dealing with 
Tribal Affairs in Northwest Frontier Province On Independence he 
was appointed the Defence Secretary of Pakistan and later became 
the Governor General of Pakistan 

21 Sinha, S K Lieutenant General, "Operation Rescue Military Op- 
erations in Jammu & Kashmir 1947-49", Vision Books, New Delhi, 
1977/1997, pp 11-12 

22 Palsokar R D ,MC, Colonel, "History of The 5* Gorkha Rifles 
(Frontier Force) Vol 111,1885-1991, 58 G TC Shillong 1991 ,p 1 1 5 


Indian Military Intervention 


241 


23. Chaturvedi M S Air Marshal, "History of the Indian Air Force", 
Vikas Publishers New Delhi, 1978,p 71. 

24 Korbel Josef, "Danger in Kashmir", Princeton University Press, 
Princeton, 1954 

25 Sinha S.K , op cit ,p 13 

26 lbid,p 15. 

27 Bamzai, Prithvi Nath Kaul;"A History of Kashmir. Political-So- 
cial-Cultural from the Earliest Times to the Present Day", Metro- 
politan Book Company, Delhi, 1962, p 682 

28 Atal, Hiralal, Major General, Nehru's Emissary to Kashmir; 
Army Educational Stores, 1972; p p 33-35 

29 Praval K C , Major, "Valour Triumphs — A History of The 
Kumaon Regiment", Thomson Press (India) Limited, 1976,p 167. 

30 "History of the Corps of Engineers", Palit & Palit Publishers, 
New Delhi, 1 980. 

31 "Atal, op cit p 10 

32 Lai PC , Air Chief Marshal, "My Years with the lAF"; Lancer In- 
ternational, New Delhi, 1986;p 59 

33 Atal, op cit pp 49-51. 

34 Campbell-johnson Allen, "Mission with Mountbatten" Robert 
Hale, London, 1951, pp 223-26 and 363; and Praval K.C ;op 
cit ;p.35 

35. Lamb, Alistair; "Kashmir A Disputed Legacy"; Karachi 1993; 
p.136. 

36 Praval K C., Major; "Indian Army After Independence"; Lancer 
Paperbacks, New Delhi, 1987/1 993, p 29. 

37.Colonel "L P. ('Bogey') Sen, a tall, fair and handsome, this 
Sandhurst-trained Bengali was originally from the Baluch Regi- 
ment. He had a fine war record and had won the Distinguished 
Service Order in the Arakans. At 37, with only sixteen years of ser- 



242 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


vice, he had just been promoted brigadier and was full of enthusi- 
asm " — Praval K C ,ibid,p 29 

38 Sen L P, Lieutenant General, D S O , "Slender was the Thread 
Kashmir Conflict 1947-48", Orient Longman, New Delhi 1969/ 
1994, p56 

39 Som Nath was the son of Major General R N Sharma of Army 
Medical Corps He had seen some bitter fighting in the Arakans 
during World War II, and now had his arm in plaster due to a frac- 
ture while playing hockey 

40 Praval K C , "Valour Triumphs"op cit p 1 69 

41 Sen L P Lieutenant General, op cit ,pp 71-75 

42 Ibid, p 76 


THE BATTLE OF 
SHALATENG" 


“THE FORTUNES OF WAR ARE STRANGE AND 
UNPREDICTABLE ” 


Soon after reviewing the Battle of Badgom as it 
developed on 3 "^ November and the operational situation 
resulting therefrom, Brigadier Sen issued orders for 
withdrawal of 1 Sikh from Rattan to concentrate on the south- 
east edge of the City so as to block enemy routes of ingress 
from Pampur This was an important operational requirement 
since reports of raiders' infiltration into Pampur had been 
pouring in over the last couple of days The Brigade 
Defended Sector now looked something like this 

* Two Companies of 4 Kumaon deployed on protection 
of the Airfield (one company nominated as Brigade reserve) 

* I Para Punjab in Humhom area astride road Srinagar- 
Badgom 

* 1 Para Kumaon in Chandmari area (Rifle Range) to 
deny enemy approaches to the City from the west 

* 1 Sikh comprising of six rifle companies on southeast 
edge of the City covering the road from Pampur 

* Maharaja's Body Guards, about 100 State Forces 
personnel in area Gandarbal to cover the northwestern 
approaches to the City. 



THE BATTLE OF SHALATENG 



NOT TO SCALE 

(■ased%n slcmocr was xhe xhread' 




The Battle of Shalateng 


245 


The location and role of the Patiala State Forces artillery 
unit IS not mentioned in the above, perhaps, it was deployed 
on the Airfield The remaining companies of 4 Kumaon 
arrived on 4*'^ November under Lieutenant Colonel Padam 
Singh However, the following day the command of the 
Battalion passed on to Lieutenant Colonel M M. Khanna 
(Later Lieutenant General, MVC) 

The primary aim of the above defensive layout was to 
guard various approaches to the City against infiltration or 
direct assault by the raiders Since no amount of force can 
possibly cover every approach to a fairly large city by static 
defensive positions held by infantry, by the very nature of 
such deployment there were large tracts of land and dead 
ground, which could not be covered. Obviously, every square 
meter of frontage can not possibly be covered by physically 
holding It by men. Far from It. Covering by fire and 
observation, and using mobile troops in reserve — be it even 
armed horsemen — is the crux of the solution. But creation 
ot such mobile reserve(s) was not possible within the 
resources then available to the Brigade Commander. 
However, it is a matter of academic interest as to what 
efforts, if at all any, were made to organise some sort of such 
a reserve, if not for fighting, then at least for patrolling and 
gathering information infiltration by the raiders. Local ponies 
were in abundance, the people and the National Conference 
were extremely cooperative. Similarly, the lack of depth in 
defensive layout and reserves could have been partly 
overcome by more judicious employment of the two 
additional rifle companies with 1 Sikh, as well as the Patiala 
gunners. 

It is not that there were no more troops in the Valley or in 
the City at that time. As it turned out later after the Battle had 
achieved a brilliant climax and total victory for Indian Army, 
it transpired that there were nearly 2,000 State Forces 
persoi»n-el "concealing themselves" in Badami Bagh 
Canton meni 



246 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Fallout from Rattan 

In his fluent easy style of his well written book, "Slender 
Was the Thread", General Sen has made much hullabaloo 
about this deployment, particularly regarding the reasons 
which prompted him to pull out 1 Sikh from a well prepared 
strongly held defensive position at Rattan much against the 
wishes of all concerned — the C.O. of the Battalion, 
Lieutenant Colonel Sampuran Bachan Singh; the Divsional 
Commander Major General Kalwant Singh, a no-nonsense 
hard task master. Since the raiders were adept at hit and run 
tactics, and were making a nuisance of themselves all over 
the rural areas around the City and sometimes within 
Srinagar itself too, thereby causing immense damage not only 
to life and property but also generally disturbing the peace at 
will, it was necessary to put a stop to this type of violence. 
The Brigadier reasons that his problem was how to make the 
enemy concentrate so that he could destroy them in pitched 
battle? "I therefore decided that the best way to effect such a 
concentration would be to give them an incentive to do so, 
and this could only be achieved by giving them a very 
attractive bait. . The bait, I felt, could only be the road — ■ 
freedom to use which, I was convinced, would act like a 
magnet... 1 Sikh at Rattan was the stumbling block, and I 
decided to withdraw this Battalion and throw open the road 
to the tribals He has thus made out the argument that this 
decision to abandon Rattan defences was a deliberate military 
calculation, a plan to entice the invaders to concentrate, and 
thus present themselves as a worthwhile target for pitched 
battle so that his brilliant generalship could defeat the enemy 
and thus put them to route 

Sounds very plausible! 

The pull out frorw Rattan might have given an impression 
to the enemy that Indian troops had virlthdrawn in the face of 
heavy losses suffered by them at Badgom. But all this talk 
about the "bait to the enemy* arid he falling for it, as if a trap 
was deliberately planned, and laid out as a brilliant military 



The Battle of Shalateng 


247 


manoeuvre — No All this appears to be simple military bull, 
a trifle over the top A mere after thought to counter 
extremely explosive reaction not only from Major General 
Kalwant Singh but also from one and all in the Emergency 
Government, notably the Sheikh as we shall soon see The 
simple truth appears to be that that very morning Sardar Patel 
had given a clear-cut decision- Save Srinagar. That was the 
first priority task, and rightly so In pursuance of that. Sen 
certainly acted boldly, and brilliantly, more so in the light of 
the previous days grim situation that the Brigade had just 
faced Furthermore, 1 Sikh at Rattan were far too out, in fact 
completely isolated from the defence perimeter which was 
rather thin on the ground as it is. Strong pockets of enemy 
infiltrators could easily interpose between Rattan and Srinagar 
thus creating serious problems for Sen Hence Sen rightly 
pulled out 1 Sikh to bolster up defences of Srinagar till further 
reinforcements promised by Sardar Patel actually fetched in, 
to allow offensive operations to be undertaken to evict the 
tribals from the Valley Lieutenant General S K Sinha also 
confirms this version when he says "Sen who had now taken 
over command of the Brigade, decided to pull in the Sikhs 
from Rattan, and form a closer defence ring round Srinagar.'"’ 

After Sardar Patel and party had left for Delhi on 4'*’ 
November, and Sen had done his day's work including 
issuance of orders for redeployment of 1 Sikh, he went over 
to the house of Sheikh Abdullah to apologise for his earlier 
rough-gruff behavior® There he also met Bakshi Ghulam 
Mohammed and Mr. D.P Dhar and talked about National 
Conference volunteers and the dangerous missions some of 
them had been undertaking to gather enemy information all 
along the front. He thanked these leaders for all their help, 
transport, etc, but did not divulge, not even a hint about the 
impending withdrawal of 1 Sikh from Rattan. 

As soon as the cat was out of the bag, there was loud 
furore aJI over. Major General Kalwant Singh who had taken 
over as CommiarKler lAK Div with his headquarters at Jammu 
was absoJylely fudous. iwad was at Srin^^l airfield first thing 


248 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


on the 5‘'’ morning. There was serious disagreement between 
the two over the military justification and the story of bait 
that Sen recited, which at best was a hunch as admitted by 
Sen himself in his book But a hunch cannot take the place of 
sound military reasoning which was certainly in favour of 
Sen All the same, it was like fire works between the two 
senior commanders, both strong personalities, and both 
highly regarded professionally. Kalwant Singh was extremely 
upset over withdrawal of 1 Sikh "without his approval and 
without consulting JAK Force Headquarters". But now it was a 
fait accompli, and impotent anger of the General over his 
Brigadier was of no further avail. It was too late in the day in 
any case since the enemy had promptly occupied Rattan 
defences. 

When this explosive news reached the Sheikh, he was no 
less furious. As it is. Sen had severely rubbed the Sher-e- 
Kashmir (Lion of Kashmir) on the wrong side by his 
impetuous rude behavior the day before; this was the last 
straw for the de facto chief of Emergency Government The 
Sheikh Saheb promptly despatched D.R Dhar to Delhi to get 
Sen sacked, and to get a new Brigade Commander for 
Srinagar. Prime Minister Nehru who saw Kashmir through the 
prism of Abdullah, and who was already miffed at Sen a few 
days earlier, readily agreed. However fortunately for Sen, 
Sardar Patel, the Iron Man of India who had carefully 
observed the Brigadier and was apparently impressed by his 
professionalism, and rightly so, put his foot down against any 
change of command at Srinagar at that crucial juncture,... 
Sen's reputation and the Distinguished Service Order, 
awarded by the British for his gallantry in Burma during the 
Second World War, certainly stood him in good stead! 

Sardar Patel was quite emphatic about saving Srinagar 
and this was a top priority job, hence, it was tantamount to a 
policy directive for Sen. Hence, the deployment of the 
Brigade had to have the accent changed from tf>e overall aim 
of throwing the raiders out of the Valley to the limited 
immediate aim of security of Srinagar, till arrivel o# further 



The Battle of Shalateng 


249 


reinforcements which were said to be on the way This, 
together with the enemy's outflanking movements around 
Pattan were the professional military reasons for withdrawal 
of 1 Sikh from Pattan Moreover there were definite reports 
of raiders taking on the City from Pampur side, and hence 
the urgent requirement to deny that approach to the enemy 
Under the circumstances, the Brigade Commander was not 
only justified but also well within his rights to redeploy the 
troops as he had done for which he did not require specific 
clearance from his higher headquarters After all, he was 
responsible for the safety of Srinagar and of his Command, 
and certainly not General Kalwant Singh or the Sheikh If only 
Brigadier Sen had stuck to the professional line of reasoning 
with his military and political bosses, rather than indulging in 
that grandiose hunch of the 'bait' argument' 

The above redeployment, although purely defensive, was 
not a reflection of a defensive mind-set Far from it, and 
certainly not for a commander of the calibre and 
temperament of Brigadier Sen who was imbued with an 
energetic offensive spirit — The general idea was that on the 
arrival of the expected reinforcements by way of two infantry 
battalions, one squadron armoured cars and a battery of 25 
pounder guns, the Indian forces will break out on 1 0‘'’ 
November to recapture Pattan the same day and Baramula 
the next day A good timetable to plan on, but which battle if 
ever went exactly by the planned time schedules When 
misfortunes come, they don't come alone Having escaped 
sacking by the width of cat's whiskers — how else can one 
explain Prime Minister Nehru being over ruled — it was 1 
Sikh ex-Pattan to land Sen in a thick soupe on the night of 5/ 
6 November 1 947, absolutely inadvertently of course 

Two volunteers of National Conference were returning to 
the City after a reconnaissance patrol in Badgom area The 
sentry of 1 Sikh cnallenged, but they did not respond and 
instead kept advancing The sentry challenged again and 
when there was till no response, he fired And the Sikhs 
always fire to kill Unfortunately for those poor souls and Sen, 


250 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


this sentry was a good shot too' Both men were killed To 
make matters worse, the Sikhs quietly buried them The next 
morning, the news of the incident reached Sheikh Abdullah 
He was more than furious The Lion of the Valley was roaring 
revenge Sen was again in a jam The situation was indeed 
most difficult for him — a temporary Brigadier given charge 
of 161 Infantry Brigade for about ten days till Katoch recovers 
and re-assumes his command Sen, besides being so new to 
the command, was facing flack from all over, all alone 
Indeed, senior military commanders are very lonely persons, 
more so in battle conditions 

In order to calm the situation and to placate the Sheikh, 
Sen moved 1 Sikh from their present defended area on the 
south-eastern edge of the City to the north of 1 Para Kumaon, 
astride the Srinagar-Baramula Road, with their right flank 
resting on River Jhelum Soon after 1 Sikh evacuated the 
position, the locals dug up the fresh grave and took the two 
bodies in a procession through downtown Srinagar, shouting 
slogans It was indeed a most explosive situation However, it 
IS to the credit of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed who addressed 
the processionists and explained the unfortunate incident, a 
pure and simple mistake, an error in identification and 
military procedures with which the local civilians were not at 
all familiar Fortunately for all concerned, this is where the 
matter ended, which it would not have but for the tact and 
leadership of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed The procession 
dispersed quietly 

Daimlers loin the Battle (regarding the Daimlers, please 
see Note 27) 

7* Cavalry Regiment equipped with Sherman tanks was 
part of BRINDIV on occupation duties in Japan During 
August 1947 the Regiment reached Ranchi while its tanks and 
soft vehicles were on the high seas in another ship On arrival 
in India the rote of the Regiment was changed to that of a 
light armoured regiment tt was a mixed regiment — A' 
Squadron was of Jats, 'B' of Punjabi Musalmans and 'C' of 


The Battle of Shalateng 


251 


Sikhs. As part of the process of division of assets between the 
two Dominions, personnel of B Squadron were repatriated to 
Pakistan while A Squadron from 6“’ Duke of Connaught's 
Own Lancers (DOC) — which was allocated to Pakistan and 
whose personnel were Jats — was repatriated to India from 
Kohat m NWFP. They arrived at Ambala Cantt in early 
October 1947 under command of Major I J Rikhye It was a 
clean exchange of two squadrons; thus DOC 'A' Squadron 
now became part of the 7'*' Light Cavalry Regiment as its 'B' 
Squadron This new squadron had not had the time or 
opportunity to get assimilated in the new Regiment. 
Therefore, when the requirement arose for a squadron of 
armoured cars to be inducted into Kashmir for active duty, 
this DOC squadron just arrived from Kohat was nominated 
for the crucial assignment The Squadron was once again on 
the move, leaving Ambala on 1“ November. This Squadron 
fought under the name of 'B' Squadron 7 Cav and brought 
glory to the Regiment. And it was a lucky coincidence that it 
was a Jat Squadron, and not a Sikh squadron as we shall see 
later 

While the rest of 7 Cav was concentrating at Jammu, 'B' 
Squadron carrying 10 days supply of rations and petrol and 
two first line lifts of ammunition reached Ramban Suspension 
Bridge on 4**’ November This 19**’ century bridge across River 
Chenab, about 120 miles north of Jammu was originally 
designed to carry carts and carriages only. Later only the 
personal car of the Maharaja was allowed to go over it. With 
the war came the empty buses, to cross one at a time But 
the bridge was not at all safe for the 7 V 2 ton Daimler 
armoured cars which were stripped to their bare bones to 
reduce the load. And they too crossed the bridge! It was an 
agonizingly slow process, one car at a time, and in the 
process the bridge was severely damaged, a large number of 
nuts and bolts having cracked. Immediately after the 
armoured cars squadron were across, the bridge was closed 
to all vefhfcuta^' trafffic resulting in an emergency convoy of 3 
ton vehicles carrying petrol to Srinagar being held up for 



252 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


more than a week till emergency repairs were carried out by 
State PWD, and later by 37 Assault Field Company of 
Bombay Sappers. 

However, the above repairs were only a stopgap 
arrangement and the military engineers had to find a better 
long-term solution to the problem. Meanwhile, on November 

, JAK Div HQ was established at Jammu which was 
supported by 1 Armoured Divisional Engineers redesignated 
as J & K Divisional Engineers comprising of 32 and 37 Assault 
Field Companies, and 39 Assault Field Park Company then in 
the process of moving from Secunderabad to Jammu. The 
Commander (Royal) Indian Engineers, Lieutenant Colonel 
Shiv Dyal Singh deployed 37 Assault Field Company and 21 
Field Company of Bombay Sappers to construct a 1 60 ft load 
class 18 Bailey Bridge about 300 yards upstream of the 
existing suspension bridge. The new bridge was completed 
only on 3'“ January 1948 due to considerable delay in getting 
heavy bridging equipment to the site.® 

Now back to the Daimlers — Major Rikhye with one 
troop of four armoured cars and the Rifle Troop reported for 
duty at HQ 161 Infantry Brigade at Srinagar airfield at about 
5.30 pm on 5**’ November, a "virtual gift from gods", in the 
words of the Brigade Commander. Major Rikhye requested 
that the troop be given the next day off for maintenance of 
the cars. The remaining squadron along with the rest of the 
reinforcement column arrived at the Airfield on 7*'’ 
November, as scheduled. 

The civil population in and around Bandipur, north of 
Wular Lake were feeling isolated and in panic for quite some 
time. The Sheikh had also been asking for some troops to be 
sent that side to restore confidence amongst the public at 
large But all these days. Sen could not spare anything at all. 
However, he was certainly tooking for some opportunity to 
mend fences with the Sheikh; and this troop of armoured 
cars and the rifle troop were just the right thing at the right 
time. So Major Rikhye was ordered to organise a patrol under 



The Battle of Shalateng 


253 


Lieutenant David in the Bandipur area Soon after the Patrol 
left the airfield, around 7 00 am radio reports from 1 Sikh 
indicated heavy sniping from the enemy The Rifle Company 
covering the bridge was heavily engaged by enemy fire 
Immediate air reconnaissance was ordered to ascertain the 
strength and movements of the raiders A Harvard flew over 
Chandmari area and reported thousands of tribals milling 
around the Brigade frontage between villages of Shalateng 
and Zainakut About 150 lorries were reported, parked on 
the mam road, nose to tail facing eastwards, in the direction 
of Srinagar Extensive enemy movements were also reported 
south of the mam road, but almost nothing towards Humhom 
or Badgom Soon, the volume and intensity of fire increased 
substantially, covering almost the entire Brigade-frontage The 
defenders were heavily outnumbered The reinforcements 
well on their way up were unlikely to be available till the 
next day at the earliest In the absence of dial sights, the 
mountain guns were also of no use 

From air reconnaissance it was evident that the raiders 
had got much too close to own troops positions Air strikes 
against the enemy forward elements were therefore ruled 
out Although strafing by fighter aircraft on the rear elements 
was well on the cards, that too was considered a rather risky 
affair m as much as air action might lead to the rear elements 
surging forward in wave action, which in turn might lead to 
hand to hand fighting •< — and that had to be avoided at all 
costs because of enemys' numerical superiority of almost 
seven to one 

Close air support was ruled out Artillery fire support was 
just not there Based on arrival of artillery and armour 
support so vital for success m such a battle. Sen had planned 
his 'D Day' as November 10*'’ If the battle was going be 
joined on 7 ^ November, a distinct possibility, at least 72 
hours in advance, the odds were apparently in favour of the 
enemy However, the large concentration of tribal Invaders in 
the open ground near Shalateng, about four miles west of the 
city VMas toofe tempting a target to resist Here was the golden 



254 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


opportunity that Sen had been waiting for So he decided to 
go oni the offensive and exploit right upto Baramula 
immediately without waiting for the additional infantry, 
artillery and armour that was expected by late evening In 
any case, if he delayed till the reinforcement could be made 
ready to go into offensive battle, these tribesmen might 
infiltrate aJI over the City and its surrounds thereby not only 
creating havoc, but also make his defences untenable. In the 
end, it proved to be a wise decision even though it appeared 
rather risky at that point of time. However, the entire battle- 
plan now hinged on David and his two armoured cars and 
Rifle Troop 

The Battle is joined 

Brigadier Sen's modified plan for the battle was: 1 Sikh to 
remain in position and answer enemys' increasing fire only 
lightly; 1 Para Kumaon to move west in small parties, 
infiltrating surreptitiously for about a mile then form up facing 
north thus placing the Battalion on the right TIank of the 
enemy In the meantime Lieutenant David had been ordered 
to move from Gandarbal, Krahom-Sumbal-Shadipur to road 
junction north of Shalateng, to the rear of the enemy 
concentration. When David's force was to be in the right 
place in the area of road -junction. Brigade Commander was 
to issue the code word 'GO' on which the two armoured cars 
and the rifle troop were to engage the enemy from the rear 
and 1 Sikh was to open up with every thing from the front. 
Thus supported by intense, albeit small arms fire and 
battalion 3" mortars, 1 Para Kumaon whose objective was the 
high ground near Zainakut was to deliver bayonet assault on 
the enemy right flank. In short, the crux of the plan was the 
two armoured cars, "gift from the gods", to be in the right 
place at the right time. 'A' Company of 4 Kumaon, Ahirs 
under Major H.S. Bolina, vy^ts moved from the airfield 
defences to secure the paratroopers formirtg-up-place (FUP) 
and to remain in the rear of the Sikhs as Brigade reserve. 

Of necessity, David had to be briefed oo the radio net, in 
clear. The gist of this briefing was — On reaching the cross- 



The Battle of Shalateng 


255 


roads at Shalateng, you will see a large concentration of 
armed tribals who will think that you are their own troops 
since you will be coming from the rear On arrival, take up 
position behind the tribals, facing east, as though you are a 
part of them and in support of them On the word 'GO', 
open fire on the enemy to destroy him in coordination with 
the assault by 1 Sikh and 1 Para Kumaon ^ 

Surprised by David's armoured cars were of prime 
importance for success of this battle. He had to pretend that 
he was one of them, coming from behind them to support 
them to capture Srinagar. And of course he had to be careful 
not to shoot up Kumaonis in the heat of the battle It was 
therefore a very fortunate coincidence that 'B' Squadron 7 
Cav was now comprised of Jats and not Sikhs' God seemed to 
be on the side of Sen and his brave troops ... 

The progress of David's Patrol was agonizingly slow, more 
so since the nerves were taut with excitement of the 
impending action, and expectation of the unfolding events. 
The route was completely unreconnoitered. The men were 
just fresh from the plains of Punjab and had been in battle 
zone barely 24 hours, nor were they familiar with the terrain, 
not even with own troops It was indeed a strange and 
difficult situation for a young subaltern who rose to the 
occasion with distinction. He managed to get his cars across 
weak narrow bridges. In one instance the width of the bridge 
was so restricted that its handrails had to be dismantled, and 
even then the free board on either side was just about two 
inches But got across they did, in painfully slow motion, and 
eventually reached the appointed rendezvous. And soon they 
were at the junction of Srinagar-Baramula and Sumbal- 
Srinagar roads. 

The surprise was indeed complete. In the ding-dong of 
battle, fortunately no one could talk to each other, nor hear 
anybody. But see they could. And the Qabatlis were happy to 
see 'their own' armoured cars supporting them for the final 
victory march. They smiled at the crew. .Some of them even 
reverently touched the cars in appreciation 



256 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


The question arises why did the tribals gather together in 
such large numbers in so limited an area, so close to the mam 
road at the 4“' mile stone on the edge of the City, right in 
front of Indian defences and thus become sitting ducks 
"General Tariq" himself gives the answer, " From our side 
the approaches to Srinagar were all covered with water 
Although the water had shrunk a good deal since the 
summer, there was still enough of it to restrict movement 
either to the mam road or a few paths and bunds It seems 
that the nearer they got to the enemy post the more they had 
found themselves converging on the road because of this 
water Ultimately, it must have looked as if the only way to 
deal with the post was to go for it straight down the narrow 
road — and this is apparently what they had done "® 

"GO'" All hell broke loose on the unsuspecting Qabailis 
who were dreaming of a victory march into Srinagar They 
were shot up by 'their own' armoured cars and the Rifle 
Troop from the rear, by the Sikhs m front and bayoneted by 
the Kumaonis from the right Confusion galore The Sikhs also 
joined the attack, and so did the reserve company of 4 
Kumaon from the right flank of the Sikhs The invaders turned 
and fled westwards, back to their favourite haunt of 
Baramula The Air Force Spitfires strafed the fleeing enemy 
from above In just about 20 minutes from the word 'GO', a 
major disaster like a thunderbolt had struck the raiders who 
suffered heavy casualties They left behind 472 dead counted 
on the battlefield, 146 m between Shalateng and Rattan, 
abandoned 138 civilians buses and lorries which was a 
welcome addition to the Emergency Government's fleet of 
vehicles The battlefield was strewn with large number of 
weapons including MMGs, medical stores, field ambulances, 
rations, kits, beddings, et al 

What caused the enemy debacle? In the first place the 
tribesmen felt let down by the powers that be m their own 
country They found the Fndfan Air Force and the guns 
pounding them but neither the Pak regular army units were 
anywhere around, nor the Pak Air Force earner to their rescue 


The Battle of Shalateng 


257 


This was highly demoralising and disturbing resulting in the 
tribesmen withdrawing back towards Muzzaffarabad at full 
speed Further, "These men have an elaborate system holding 
lengthy councils of war for each action when all the pros and 
cons are seriously considered and thereafter, if not every 
man, then at least every group, individually understands and 
accepts the allotted task This is how they had arranged their 
brilliant attack at Muzzaffarabad, the first target. But after 
that, they simply appear to have been carried forward in a 
rush which worked well enough upto Baramula .. " but not 
thereafter "In their own country, the tribesmen fought as 
snipers and raiders.. They were masters in the art of 
ambushing troops and transport. They could also attack 
isolated posts But there were two things they usually did not 
do. They did not like to attack troops in defensive positions 
— and they did not like to sit in defensive positions to be 
attacked by troops." And this precisely was the situation the 
tribesmen faced. The tribesman is able to appear at the most 
unexpected times and places — and this unpredictability 
makes him a menace.. Further, he has only a rifle and a 
knife to carry, and because he is physically tougher, he can 
move very much longer and faster than any troops The 
tribesman lost at Shalateng because his fighting attributes 
could no be put to appropriate use FHowever, as we shall see 
later in this narrative, Akbar Khan was to exploit these 
characteristics to the hilt to achieve a landmark victory over 
Indian Army when he, while commanding a Brigade, 
captured a strategic feature known as Pandu from 161 
Infantry Brigade. 

Pursuit of enemy after success in a defensive battle is the 
most natural part of sequence of battle procedure, and 161 
Infantry Brigade was quick to grab the opportunity. Within 
minutes of the enemy taking to the heels towards Baramula, 
the Brigade advance commenced with the Sikhs in the lead 
as advance guard supported by a detachment of Madras 
Sappers. The Sikhs were more than happy to be back "home" 
to occupy their old defences at Pattan by about 8.00 pm the 


258 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


same day, 7'” November The remainder Brigade, the main 
body reached about t'-'o hours later 

The Indian troops were m thin OG summer cotton 
uniforms. And it was mighty cold up in the mountains at 
night But that was not to deter the dashing Brigade 
Commander from resuming the Brigade advance to Baramula 
around midnight 7/8 November 

The unpleasant task ot clearing the battlefield littered 
with bodies and stores of all types, empties of bullets and 
shells strewn all over, fell on the ever-willing broad shoulders 
of Mr. D.P. Dhar who got the whole place cleared in 3-4 days 
While the Shalateng battle was in progress, the mam 
reinforcement column also fetched in at the airfield, but it 
was too late for the battle then being fought However, 2 
Dogra which had been airlifted from Adampur airfield on 7 ^*' 
November and had one extra rifle company attached to it 
temporarily from the Baluch Dogras was immediately 
deployed for additional protection of the airfield Their 
Adjutant was rather amused when he received a message 
from the Brigade, "Send escort of one platoon, find your own 
transport 

This Battle was an unmitigated disaster for Pakistani plans 
to grab Srinagar by force of arms. Brigadier Sen's plan for this 
major Battle, the first to be fought by Indian troops led by 
their own officers in defence of their own country was 
brilliant in concept and glorious in its execution. And it saved 
Srinagar for India, bes'dr of course vindicating his stand 
completely. HoA'ever, the vagan* = fuc; also played a most 
significant part in Indian success in this memorable battle of 
this Campaign. The 'ifs' and 'buts' of war... But for that 
unfortunate incident of killing of two volunteers of the 
National Conference, 1 Sikh would have continued to be 
where Sen had initially deployed them as part of his Brigade 
Defended Sector, and enemy would have faced only one 
infantry battalion, 1 Para'Kumaon in their "victory march" to 
Srinagar 'But' for the jat crew of the armoured cars and the 


The Battle of Shalateng 


259 


Rifle Troop, what if they were Sikhs^ To cap it all, the 
despatch of the "gift from the gods" to placate the Sheikh 
Thus Sheikh Abdullah — his furious ire on the first instance 
and his persistence for the second — was primarily 
responsible for Dame Fate to side with the Indian troops 

Baramula Recaptured 

1 Para Kumaon led the Brigade advance from Rattan to 
Baramula Supported by the armoured cars, they captured 
the hill features south of Baramula town, unopposed After 
securing these hills as the firm base, they entered the town, 
again unopposed Thus by 7 30 am on 8'*’ November 
Baramula was retaken without firing a shot Meanwhile, 1 
Sikh also moved up into the town along with the armoured 
cars 

Bakshi Chulam Mohammed was in Baramula within one 
hour of Its capture by the Indian troops The locals were 
dead-scared and tense However, news of Bakshi's arrival 
had a calming effect on the populace The town was 
completely deserted It was a deathly silence that prevailed 
all over, silent as a tomb There were scenes of deliberate, 
VICIOUS and systematic destruction, wanton pillage, arson and 
loot The Mission Hospital and the Mission Church were 
riddled with bullet holes, and the patients slaughtered 

Prime Minister Nehru and Defence Minister Baldev Singh 
visited Srinagar They were conducted around the Shalateng 
battlefield on November "Dead bodies were lying on and 
beside the road and burnt out shells of lorries that had been 
strafed by our aircraft The Prime Minister was given a 
Guard of Honour at Srinagar on 11 November and the 
honour for this ceremony went to the 'B' Squadron A 
number of bravery awards were given notables ones being 
the award of VrC to Lieutenant David and Dafadar Jage Ram, 
both of 7 Cav 

By the time Baramula was retaken, additional 
reinforcements had arrived at the airfield In the wake of 
withdrawal of 1 Sikh from Rattan, Tac HQ JAK Dtv had also 


260 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


moved to Srinagar on November Since 161 Infantry 
Brigade was straining on the leash to get going for Uri — and 
thence hopefully to Domel — the command and control 
structure was reorganised. Colonel (later Lieutenant General) 
Harbaksh Singh was allotted 4 Kumaon commanded by 
Lieutenant Colonel (later Lieutenant General) M M Khanna 
and 6 Rajputana Rifles commanded by Lieutenant Colonel 
S S. Kalan, MC'^; and this force designated as Srinagar 
Defence Force was made responsible for the security of the 
airfield as well as the City and its surrounding areas The 
Order of Battle of 161 Infantry Brigade now was as follows. 

Headquarters 1 61 Infantry Brigade 

* One troop 'B' Squadron 7 Cav 

* One Mountain Battery’^ 

* One troop 1 1 Field Battery (25 pounders) 

* First Battalion 2"'* Punjab Regiment 

* First Battalion The Sikh Regiment (Personnel of one 
battery of 13 Field Regiment Artillery in infantry role as an 
additional rifle company) 

* 1 Kumaon (Para) 

* 2 Dogra 

* Company Mahar MMGs 


Pursuit operations are a pretty fast moving military 
actions, all the more so if a commander wants to extract the 
maximum advantage from his success in the earlier battle, be 
It defensive or an attack operation when the enemy is on the 
run. And success in battle is a heady wine! So was it here. 
161 Infantry Brigade left Baramula at 7.00 am lO*'’ November 
for advance to Uri. 1 Sikh with a troop of armoured cars was 
in the lead as advance guard followed by 1 Para Kumaon and 
troop field battery in the main body. 1 Para Punjab was to 
join the column later after handing over firm base duties at 
Baramula to 2 Dogra, which was in the process of moving up 
from Srinagar airfield 



The Battle of Shalateng 


26 7 


The road from Baramula to Uri follows the south bank of 
river Jhelum, overlooked by heavily forested spurs of the 
famous Pir Panjal Range It is a formidable range with steep 
banks on both sides of the river, which flows through a gorge 
The pursuit phase of the battle was indeed hot and fast The 
tribesmen were on the run, chased by armoured and infantry 
column on the ground and by Spitfires in the air Tempest 
sorties operating from Amritsar were harassing the tribesmen 
all the way to Domel where a few 250-pound bombs 
destroyed a boat bridge at Muzzaffarabad However, small 
groups of tribesmen fleeing from Shalateng- Baramula were 
still active in the area, the heights on both sides of the road 
had to be physically occupied, searched, cleared and 
piqueted for the mam body to pass through. Of necessity, the 
advance had to be slow, more so on account of the damaged 
bridges 

The advance had not gone much beyond Baramula when 
Sen was ordered to shed 1 Para Punjab and return the 
Battalion to Srinagar so that it could join its parent formation 
50 Parachute Brigade in Jammu area Sen argued that since 
50 Para Brigade was not operating in a Para role, but like any 
other infantry brigade, it was really immaterial which infantry 
battalion made up its full requirement, any other battalion 
from Jammu area, or from the rest of India would serve the 
purpose And hence it was really not at all necessary to 
disturb the progress of pursuit-advance operations to Uri, and 
thence to Domel, which at that point of time was Sen's 
objective. But General Kalwant Singh refused to see the 
strength and sense of Sen's reasoning Sen had no option but 
to comply, howsoever irra.tional the order appeared to be. Of 
necessity, therefore, the advance was halted, the Brigade 
column regrouped, and piquets redeployed It was a time 
consuming and frustrating process. 

The advance thereafter became a slow and laborious 
process since the strength of the column was substantially 
reduced. "... the removal of 1 Para Punjab violated a cardinal 
principle of war i.e, instead of reinforcing success, exactly the 



262 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


opposite was done Less than a week earlier, two infantry 
battalions were moved up from Jammu to Srinagar If an 
infantry battalion was indeed required for 50 Para Brigade, all 
that should have been done was to hold one of these 
battalions back in Jammu, rather than indulge in this exercise 
in futility of moving battalions up and own for 300 miles, just 
for the sake of affiliations As it is, Indian Army as a whole 
was in the throes of reorganisation consequent of the 
Partition and division of military assets, leading to all round 
changes in affiliations To drive a final nail in the argument — 
1 Para Kumaon on the Orbat of 161 Infantry Brigade was also 
a para battalion belonging to 77 Para Brigade' 

In hindsight, it appears to be a simple case of clash of 
egos Both strong personalities professionally sound, 
melodramatic and impulsive In any case, Kalwant Singh 
could not have forgotten so soon the episode of withdrawal 
of 1 Sikh from Pattan, and Brigadier Sen's stand being 
gloriously vindicated by an outstanding success m battle 

In order to make up for the loss of 1 Para Punjab and 
keep the pace of advance to Uri at full steam, Sen requested 
Srinagar to order 4 Kumaon to move forward to join the 
Brigade as soon as possible after first light on 1 1 November. 
But the General said 'No', since he had just formed Sri 
Garrison under Harbaksh Singh for the defence of Srinagar, 
which included 4 Kumaon. In other words, the General had 
kept two infantry battalions (4 Kumaon and 6 Raj Rif), 
squadron less one troop of armour, troop field battery — 
almost a brigade worth of troops to patrol the Valley when 
Srinagar was absolutely safe, and there were hardly any 
raiders left in the Valley. That decision was all the more 
disconcerting since hordes of invaders had been held back, 
and already repulsed with much lesser force. Indeed, it is 
virtually impossible to professionally justify the General's 
decision, notwithstanding his high military reputation to the 
contrary It is therefore difficult to escape the conclusion that 
personality clash, ego-conflict; with perhaps an iota of 
professional jealousy was the root cause of the problem 


The Battle of Shalateng 


263 


between the two commanders This unfortunately was to 
continue for the rest of this Campaign leading to the 
proverbial situation of two swords and one scabbard, 
particularly whenever both commanders were in Srinagar In 
the same breath, one might as well add that, but for this 
enigmatic situation, it was well within the realm of possibility 
for Indian troops to have reached Domel before the Pak 
forces could even react to failure of their "Op Culmarg" As 
confirmed by Major General Akbar Khan also, there was 
nothing between Uri and Domel to stop the Indians But the 
Indians managed to halt themselves 

Now back to the clash of the opposing forces — The 
Brigade column resumed its advance on 10^'’ November in 
the face of small scale delaying rearguard actions by the 
withdrawing enemy forces necessitating frequent dismounting 
of the advance guard, clearing the enemy from hill tops for 
which MMG fire support from the armoured cars proved 
particularly useful, embussing and resuming the advance — a 
process repeated many times in the day when the head of 
the column reached Rampur area by about 4 pm That day's 
advance had covered only six miles. This was understandable 
since It involved a series of difficult operations as the road for 
most part passed through a narrow gorge flanked by hills 8- 
10,000 ft high on either side. 

Mahura powerhouse was barely five miles from where 
the advancing column had halted for the night on 11 
November. Soon some explosions were heard from the 
direction of the PowerHouse Suspecting that the 
withdrawing enemy might be damaging the machinery and 
equipment of the power station, the troop armoured cars and 
the rifle troop were ordered to rush to the Power House with 
1 Para Kumaon following on foot. It was a risky decision, but 
paid off and the installation was saved from demolition just in 
the nick of time. Army Engineers with the help of local staff 
managed to repair the plant in about 8-1 0 days and electric 
power supply to Srinagar and surrounding areas was soon 
restored 



264 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Uri Liberated 

The withdrawing enemy had demolished the bridge at 
MS 54 It was a small gap of only 15-ft, but had steep banks 
on both sides In the absence of military bridging equipment, 
or earth moving equipment like the dozers, it proved to be 
an effective obstacle Fu»-ther advance was held up till an 
improvised crossing was prepared by pitching in boulders to 
fill the gap. This slow and tedious process took good part of a 
day and a half giving considerable respite to the enemy, 
besides enabling the tribesmen to make preparations for 
imposing further delay and casualties 

The above deficiency in force-composition brought out a 
serious lacuna in staff work both at JAK HQ in Jammu as well 
as Command Headquarters in Delhi While planning for 
reinforcements to be sent by road to Srinagar, provision was 
made for armour and artillery support but engineer support 
was completely neglected. May be, they could not spare a 
full fledged engineer field company because of other pressing 
commitments on resources deployed on Pathakot-Jammu 
road, at least a detachment of Sappers with a dozer and 
demolition accessories was the least that should have been 
added to the Orbat of 161 Infantry Brigade, It appears that 
even the Brigade Commander did not make a bid for that 
However, a proper bridge was constructed here three weeks 
later when 32 Assault Field Company Engineers commanded 
by Major R.N. Kumar was allotted to the Brigade for 
subsequent operations 

Uri was re-occupied on IS*** November, not re-captured 
since there were no enemy troops in and around Uri at the 
time By then, bulk of the raiders had managed to reach the 
safety of Muzzaffarabad The Brigade had advanced 62 miles 
in four days, in mountainous terrain for which the troops 
were ill equipped and ill trained. And blankets at night? 
Three soldiers shared one. In the words of the Brigade 
Commander, "...they braved the enemy and the elements 
and got better of both".’® 


The Battle of Shalateng 


265 


Uri used to be a small town on the bank of River Jhelum, 
situated half way between Domel and Srinagar on the mam 
road It used to be a convenient halting place for tourists, 
with cafes, restaurants and wayside eateries dotting the 
roadside The place is shaped like a bowl, the town at the 
bottom of the cup and high hills on all sides It is also a 
communication centre of sorts, in as much as the road to 
Poonch takes off from here to cross the famous Haji Pir Pass 
at 8652-ft AMSL over the Pir Panjal Range. 

The Brigade had left one battalion at Baramula as its firm 
base Having had to shed 1 Para Punjab soon after resuming 
advance. Sen now had only two battalions at Uri He 
deployed 1 Sikh on the heights and placed 1 Para Kumaon to 
guard the lower slopes and entries to the town The 
additional rifle company with 1 Sikh was kept as Brigade 
reserve Uri was thus securely in Indian hands on November 
13 “’ 

As soon as confirmation of capture and consolidation of 
Uri was received at JAK Div HQ that was still in Srinagar, 
General Kalwant Singh ordered cessation of further advance 
to Domel Sen was further informed that his next task would 
be to hold Uri in strength as a firm base, and to advance to 
Poonch around 18^“ November in coordination with move of 
50 Para Brigade from the south He was further instructed 
that no reconnaissance whatsoever of the road Uri-Haji Pir 
Pass was to be undertaken — the last part of the instruction 
seems to have come from a civilian bureaucrat with no 
knowledge of military operations, and followed in toto by the 
ever obedient military brass. 

General Kalwant Singh issued his orders on 16 November 
1947. He ordered 50 Para Brigade to relieve the State Forces 
garrisons in Jammu and Poonch area after handing over 
responsibility for L of C to 268 Infantry Brigade 161 Infantry 
Brigade was ordered to move a column from Uri on 18'“ 
November towards Poonch. "General Bucher thought that 
Kalwant Singh' plan far exceeded his instructions from Army 


266 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Headquarters He also termed the advance from Uri, when 
the opposition was strong in that sector, somewhat premature 
and foolhardy Brigadier Pranjpye was also unhappy and felt 
that the allotment of troops to tasks and timings were 
unrealistic and too ambitious Subsequent events proved both 
of them right 

Of course. Sen vehemently protested over the absurdity 
of the above order Militarily, it just did not seem to make 
sense to the Brigade Commander who was obviously not 
aware of the developments m Delhi In his own words, "This 
order took me completely by surprise I explained to Major 
General Kalwant Singh that 1 had the enemy on the run, and 
unless I kept up the pressure he would recover and come 
back, and instead of attacking him, we would be 
attacked.. In the end, that is precisely what happened 

VICTORY INDIA: ADVANTAGE PAKISTAN 

The capture of Uri by Indian forces set the stage for 
repetition of Junagarh, albeit in an entirely different 
perspective. Junagarh was a territorial victory for India in a 
very limited sense, but Pakistan derived a major diplomatic 
advantage for having extracted the principle of a plebiscite as 
the sole means of ascertaining the wishes of the people as to 
which Dominion a princely state, in dispute, would join, 
even though such a provision did not exist even indirectly in 
the Indian Independence Act and the related documents 
pertaining to matters connected with accession. Since 
Junagarh was m any case going to be part of the Indian 
Union, India did not derive any special advantage. But on the 
other hand, the sole outcome of the imbroglio there was a 
favourable development for Pakistan, as a moral principle 
and a public relations point when it came to the dispute 
about the State of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Even though the Indian Forces had scuttled "Op 
Gulmarg", the advantage once again went to Pakistan. The 
initiative was back in Pakistan's hands, to make the Indian 
commanders dance to their tune 


Ihe Battle of Shalateng 


267 


General Russell wanted to exploit success to the hilt, fully 
right upto Domel and Muzzaffarabad, more so since the 
invaders had been decisively defeated The enemy was on 
the run and he must not be given any time to regroup, no 
respite whatsoever Russell wanted a relentless hot pursuit 
right upto Pakistan border and recommended to the powers 
that be that " we should continue our advance to 
Muzzaffarabad on the Pakistan/Kashmir border and demolish 
the two bridges over the Kishenganga at Domel and Kohala 
Our troops should withdraw immediately thereafter, leaving 
the Kashmir Police to take over border policing duties at 
Domel and Kohala His plan further envisaged retaining 
one brigade group in the Valley as a mobile reserve to deal 
with any incursions, or serious border violations Sealing off 
the Valley once and for all as one time permanent solution to 
the Kashmir problem was the crux of Russell's future plans to 
achieve a higher strategic objective — That is what is 
generalship, and that is the material authentic generals and 
statesmen are really made of Mere idealism and rhetoric is 
not enough 

The records available well after the war conclusively 
prove that, after the Battle of Shalateng, there was hardly any 
enemy opposition right upto Domel The raiders had indeed 
reached the safety of their bases m Muzzaffarbad, if not even 
beyond. If there was any enemy, or serious opposition, it was 
all in the minds of Indian commanders right from the C.O. of 
the leading battalion to Brigade headquarters and right upto 
top echelons in Delhi Our field commanders were creating 
much too much of a hoo-haa about strong enemy opposition 
What was the enemy? Who — The tribesmen? Where were 
they? What strength and dispositions? Or was it Pak regular 
units and formations? Yes, they were there; but certainly not 
in the Valley, not at that porht of time They came much later 
This part does neither seems to have been analysed at JAK 
Div HQ, nor correctly portrayed to Delhi, particularly to the 
Political Leadership of the country. Did any one explain the 
strategic pros and cons to Prime Minister Nehru, or to Sardar 


268 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


Patel? Or was the political leadership averse to listening to 
military minds? 

Akbar Khan is quite candid regarding the absence of any 
organised opposition to Indian advance to Domel, if it had 
come "I reckoned that by this time the tribesmen and 
volunteers must have crossed the border and be out of 
Kashmir As the local people of this area had not yet risen to 
organise themselves, there was no resistance left anywhere 
along this stretch of 75 miles of road (from Muzzaffarabad 
side). If the Indians became aware of this, they could move 
forward in their trucks and reach the Pakistan border within 
three hours. If they did not move immediately, they would do 
so next morning when their aircraft would report that nothing 
opposed them But our forces did not move forward, just 
like Pak forces did not move forward when Srinagar was well 
within their grasp' But there was one essential difference 
between the two situations Whereas the Indian Forces 
wanted to move forward at break neck speed — Sen was 
straining on the short leash that held his Brigade back, and 
General Russell was very much in favour of letting Sen go for 
Domel — the Indian political leadership did not permit the 
advance to continue in the right direction at the right time 
On the other hand, the Pak authorities very much wanted 
their 'force' to move forward and make a victorious march 
into Srinagar, it was the 'force' that was neither willing nor 
ready to move forward, they wanted to enjoy the fruits of 
Baramula' 

Akbar Khan further goes on to add, Indians, still very 
cautious, showed no signs of hurrying They were content 
with long-distance shooting — and as for every half a dozen 
rounds that we fired they probably fired six thousand . This 
worked, and worked as well as I could hope for. We were 
succeeding in creating the impression that the front was still 
very much there — and consequently the Indians continued 
to be cautious Although their forward elements had already 
reached Uri, their mam body took yet another day to reach 
there."-’ The enemy thus succeeded in imposing a delay on 



The Battle of Shalateng 


269 


US by merely pretending that he had a fairly large force when 
m fact the bulk of the invaders were no where near Uri It 
was "General Tariq" himself with a handful of men fighting a 
rearguard action, since in any case he had hardly any place 
to go to after leaving Kashmir' 

The final full stop came at Chakhoti, 15 miles from Uri 
where he destroyed a bridge across a very deep nullah with 
sheer drops on both sides virtually precluding a diversion 
Indian troops did threaten Chakhoti two days later, but by 
then It was too late Too much water had flown down the 
Jhelum by then' Meanwhile, "General Tariq" did manage to 
gather together a rag tag team of about 75 men designated as 
the First Muzzaffarabad Battalion under Lieutenant 
Qudratullah, an Ex State Forces officer. 

161 Infantry Brigade "advanced 62 miles to Uri with two 
of these five battalions. If it could crush the enemy strength at 
Shalateng with just two battalions, and gain 62 miles of 
territory thereafter, Domel, which lay 45 miles further, was 
not beyond its compass had it been given all the five units . 
The Government of India was keen that Domel should be 
recovered, and so were the popular leaders of Kashmir 161 
Infantry Brigade, riding the crest of a wave, was ready and 
willing to move forward and make a resolute attempt at 
achieving the object. Unfortunately, the military hierarchy kp 
N ew Delhi did not appear to share the objective."^- May be, 
the chemistry between the two senior field commanders, the 
Brigade Commander and hir superior too had a part to play 
in this unfortunate trend. 

Continuing the advance to Domel with constant probing 
attacks in front had the added advantage of keeping the 
retreating enemy remnants on their toes, on the run all the 
time, and thus not allow the raiders to regroup and form up 
to put up a worthwhile defence, let alone mount an attack on 
the Indian column(s). Just holding the Uri Bowl and sitting 
there was exactly the opposite of what was militarily correct 
and desirable course of action at that point of time 
Furthermore, pursuing the operations on the lines suggested 


270 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


by General Russell had the added advantage of securing the 
right flank of any subsequent operations for the relief of 
Poonch In fact, it is well on the cards that recapture of 
Domel and Muzzaffarbad areas by the Indian forces might 
well have neutralised enemy positions in Poonch area, if not 
make them altogether untenable. 

But that was not to be Unfortunately, India was destined 
to be saddled with the Kashmir problem for the lifetime of 
the Nation 

General Russel was a notable exception amongst the 
British top Brass. He rendered honest, bold and militarily 
correct advice and made a positive effort to steer India to 
complete victory — the best any government could have 
asked for. But when snubbed in his efforts by inexperienced 
political leadership, he like a good soldier, obeyed the 
directive without any mental reservations. The magnificent 
Battle of Shalateng, a dazzling masterstroke of generalship 
achieved through the blood and bravery of Indian soldiers 
under extremely difficult conditions, was destined not to bear 
fruits for India Russell's sound military advice spurned by 
non-professionals, by no less a person than Prime Minister 
Nehru himself, albeit for purely humanitarian^ and political 
considerations It is a matter of conjecture who his personal 
military advisers were There is no denying that, while in 
infringement of the recognised military chain of command, 
he did have some trusted military officers and perhaps some 
civil intelligence officials too, who were otherwise close to 
him in such matters It is sad to note m the hindsight of 
history that Prime Minister Nehru was ill advised in spurning 
the advice of his military commanders, both in the higher 
headquarters as well as the those in the field. 

The above is one side of the story — On the other side it 
appears that further advance to Domel was scuttled by senior 
British officers in Army HQ at New Delhi This aspect gains 
credence from the statement attributed to Prime Minister 
Nehru in the Defence Committee meeting held on 28 ^'’ 


The Battle of Shalateng 


271 


November 1948 wherein he is reported to have said that, 
"he could not understand why Indian Army had stopped at 
Uri instead of going to Domel and even Kohala He 
considered the occupation of Domel as most important as it 
controlled two roads from Pakistan into Kashmir 

Instead, 161 Infantry Brigade was directed towards 
Poonch And that too, without even the elementary military 
precaution of a route reconnaissance before rushing head-on 
into the unknown 'Time spent on recce is never wasted' is 
an old military cliche There is no substitute for military 
reconnaissance before undertaking a mission This cardinal 
principle of military planning and preparation was 
deliberately ignored, given a bye In a way that is 
understandable, since our higher military commanders had 
received accelerated promotions for which, perhaps, some of 
them were not fit for 

Uri was captured on 13*'’ November The Brigade was 
required to advance to Poonch on the 18'^ in coordination 
with advance by 50 Para Brigade from the south However, 
the diversion to Poonch actually commenced only on the 
20“’ In the meantime, the fine tuned fighting machine was 
lying idle 

General Russel's recommendation for an immediate 
advance to Muzzaffarabad was not accepted "I have reasons 
to believe that the decision to go to the relief of Punch was 
taken at the highest government level at Delhi .. It was of 
course not the first time in history that when political 
considerations outweighed military requirements From the 
humanitarian point of view the decision to proceed to Punch 
may have been commendable but" militarily it was not a wise 
move There was no gainsaying that advance to 
Muzzaffarabad would not have been an easy undertaking 
There was also the risk of our stretching our necks too far 
forward across a difficult line of communication, which the 
enemy could cut from the south. Yet with all these attendant 
difficulties, I feel that an advance to Muzzaffarabad, when 



272 


Military Plight of Pakistan 


the enemy was off balance, would have been a calculated 
risk, well worth taking In the event, the fact that the enemy 
still held so-called Azad territory from Muzzaffarabad to Uri, 
not only gave him scope for getting reinforcements and 
developing his operations but also gave him useful 
propaganda material with which to boost the morale of his 
shaken tribesmen, namely his alleged claim to have halted 
our advance at Uri. Another fact which must not be 
overlooked while considering this issue, was that our advance 
beyond Uri would have forced the enemy to ease his 
pressure on the besieged garrison of Punch "2'* 

It was certainly not the last time that non-military 
considerations prevailed when deciding a purely military 
matter This unfortunate trend was to bedevil Indian 
diplomacy and military thought many times in the short span 
of Independent India's history. It was, so to say, in the genes 
of the ruling elite for which the country had to go on paying a 
high price — Non-military political considerations over-ruling 
a purely military situation; decisions on military matters being 
imposed by those not competent in military thought and 
strategy — This was, and shall continue to be the bane of 
Indian political leadership who, as opposed the Western 
democracies, never had, or shall have, any exposure to basic 
military grounding in geo-strategic studies. 

India lost the golden opportunity to solve the Kashmir 
problem once and for all, for all times to come. To seal the 
Valley from Pakistani interference forever Decisive victory in 
the very first major battle won by Indian troops was frittered 
away into a positive advantage for Pakistan. In the ultimate 
analysis, India's victory turned out to be a success story for 
Pakistan And India continues to pay a heavy price for that 
Himalayan blunder of judgement till today, spilling the blood 
of her soldiers in a proxy war with no end in sight. 

The raiders were completely off balance. The invading 
force had been crippled and decimated, the remnants fleeing 
to their bases across the border. But with the pursuit having 


The Battle of Shalateng 


273 


been jerked to a sudden halt, they must have looked back in 
surprise that In fact, they were dumb founded as was later 
revealed in a candid narrative by Akbar Khan "One cannot 
permit unique opportunities to slip by for the sake of 

trifles. "25 

India also missed another golden opportunity when we 
failed to make full use of our air power to at least achieve the 
very limited aim of destroying the two vital bridges of 
Lachman Patan and Kohala. In the words of General 
Shrinagesh " the effectiveness of the air effort had already 
been limited due to political considerations, and the lAF was 
unable to function in one of its primary roles of indirect 
support and the isolation of the battle field by attacks on the 
enemy's supply bases and mam lines of communication by 
interdiction Air commodore M.M. Engineer, commanding 
No.1 Operational Group, was now even forbidden to attack 
enemy installations near towns such as Muzzaffarabad and 
Mirpur and also vital bridges of Lachman Patan and Kohala 
over which enemy personnel and enemy equipment regularly 
passed. This meant that the Air Force in J&K was never 
allowed full scope of action "2® 


NOTES & REFERENCES 

1. The Battle of Shalateng was the first of the three most crucial 
and significant offensive battles fought in this Campaign The sec- 
ond was the Battle of Jhangar which resulted in the recapture of a 
vital military objective and securing our lines of communications 
thereby leading to capture of Rajauri and paving the way for relief 
of Poonch The third in this category was the Battle of Zojila, 
which resulted m the breakthrough of a formidable mountain pass 
and saved Leh-Ladakh for India 

The description of this Battle in this Chapter is based on Chapter 8 
of the Book written by Lieutenant General L P Sen, DSO, the then 
Commander of 161 Infantry Brigade, under whose command this 
Battle^ was fought — "Slender Was the Thread Kashmir Confronta- 


274 


Military Plight of Paki^.tan 


tion 1947-48", Orient Longman, New Delhi, 1969/1994 

2 Akbar Khan, "Raiders in Kashmir", Pakistan Publishers, Karachi, 
1970, p 39 

3 Sen L P, op cit pp 78-79 

4 Sinha S K , Lieutenant General, "Operation Rescue Military Op 
erations in Jammu & Kashmir 1947 49", Vision Books, New Delhi, 
1977/1997, p 28 

5 For details, please see Chapter 14, "Incident in the Ops Room" 

6 Rau R M , Major General, "Tradition of Valour", Commandant 
Bombay Engineer Croup, Kirkee, 1984, p 28 

7 Sen L P, op cit p 97 

8 Akbar Khan, op cit pp 39,41-42 

9 lbld,pp 50-52 

10 Palsokar R D, MC, Colonel, "The Dogra Regiment", Com- 
mandant Dogra Regimental Centre, 1982, p 256 

11 Atal, Hiralal, Major General, "Nehru's Emissary to Kashmir", 
Army Education Stores, New Delhi, 1972, p 133 

12 Lieutenant Colonel S S Kalan was awarded the Military Cross 
in Burma during the Second World War 

13 Sikh mountain gunners earlier employed as a rifle company 
with 1 Sikh were given the guns of Patiala Mountain Battery, and 
the Patiala State Forces personnel were repatriated to their State 
Cun dial sights had been received in the meantime 

14 Sen L P, op cit p 109 

15 "History of Corps of Engineers", Palit & Palit Publishers, New 
Delhi, 1 980 

1 6 Sen L P, op cit p 1 1 3 

1 7 Nanda K K Lieutenant General, "Conquering Kashmir — A Pa- 
kistani Obsession", Lancer Books, New Delhi, 1994, p 85 




The Battle of Shalateng 


275 


1 8 Sen L P, op cit pp 113-114 
19SinhaSK op at p31 

20 Akbar Khan, op cit p 70 

21 Ibid pp 72-73 

22 Sen L P, op cit p 294 

23 Prasad S N Dr and Dharam Pal Dr, "History of Operations in 
Jammu and Kashmir - 1947-48", History Division, Ministry of De- 
fence, India, 1987, p 71 

24 Sinha SK, op Cl pp32-33 

25 Rommel quoted by Sinha SK, op at p 33 

26 Lieutenant General S M Shrinagesh's talk to student officers of 
Staff College, Wellington, on 26 October 1949 quoted by Dr 
Sudhir S Bloeria in his book, "The Battles of Zojila", Har Anand 
Publications, New Delhi 1997,p 211 

27 Daimler armoured car was built to the 'Tank, Light, Wheeled' 
formula Rear mounted 95 bhp Six-cylinder engine Transmission 
taken via 'Fluid Flywheel' to a centrally mounted transfer box No 
central transmission shafts Automotive components attached di- 
rectly to hull, no chassis as such Good cross country performance 
Top road speed 50 mph Disc brakes Second steering wheel facing 
rear so that car could be driven rapidly in reverse in emergency 
Armament identical to Tetrarch Light Tank, viz , 2-pounder gun 
and coaxially mounted 7 92 mm Besa machine gun (Humbers in 
the other Squadron had 37-mm guns)